Skip to main content

Full text of "Recollections And Essays"

See other formats


OXFORD UNIVFRSITY PRESS 

AMTN HOl'^E, K.C. 4 

London I Jjnburgh Glaspow NY\\ V>ik 

Joronto Mi IbounieC.ifX' lown Ik>nji><\ 

Cnlcutta M.ulr.ib 

ci <>n RLY ci'Miii RI i c,i; 

PI hi l^HhR TO Till IMWKslfV 



RECOLLECTIONS 
& ESSAYS 

By 
LEO TOLSTOY 

Translated 

with an Introduction by 
AYLMER MAUD 




GEOFFREY CUMBERLEGE 

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 

LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO 



LEO ToLST6v 

Born: Yasnaya Polyana, Tula 

August 28 (Old Style) = September 9 (New Style), 1828 
Died : Astapovo, Riazan 
November 7 (Old Style) = November 20 (New Style), 1910 

The articles, jottings, and letters which comprise 'Recollections and 
Essays' were written between 1890 and 79/0. In the 'Woiid's 
Classics' 'Recollections and Essays' was jirst published in 7937 
and reprinted in 1946. 



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 



CONTENTS 

INTRODUCTION, by AYLMER MAUDE . . vii 

'RECOLLECTIONS.' Jottings made in 1902 and in 1908 i 
WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 1890 67 
THE FIRST STEP. 1892 .... 90 
NON-ACTING. 1893 . . . .136 

AN AFTERWORD TO FAMINE ARTICLES. 1893 171 
MODERN SCIENCE. 1898 . . . .176 

AN INTRODUCTION TO RUSKIN'S WORKS. 
1899 . . . . . .188 

LETTERS ON HENRY GEORGE. 1897 . .189 

THOU SHALT NOT KILL/ 1900 . .195 

BETHINK YOURSELVES! 1904 . . .204 

A GREAT INIQUITY. 1905 . . .272 

SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA. 1906 . 307 

WHAT'S TO BE DONE? 1906 . . .384 

I CANNOT BE SILENT. 1908 . . -395 

A LETTER TO A HINDU. 1908 . . .413 

GANDHI LETTERS. 1910 . . . -433 

LETTER TO A JAPANESE. 1910 . . . 440 

THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN. 1910 . . 446 

THOUGHTS FROM PRIVATE LETTERS . 494 

INDEX TO THIS VOLUME . . .501 

GENERAL INDEXES 



INTRODUCTION 

npHis volume is a reproduction of the final 
A volume of the Centenary Edition, which was 
the first edition of Tolstoy's works in any language 
so arranged as to show the sequence and develop- 
ment of his views. 

From the first, but especially from the time he 
wrote Confession, the censor constantly suppressed 
or mutilated Tolstoy's works and at times even 
interpolated sentences he had not written. This 
occasioned many perplexities. Clandestine hecto- 
graphed and mimeographed editions of some of 
his writings began to circulate, and these at times 
contained errors and omissions w r hich were after- 
wards reproduced in translations. Tolstoy's wife, 
wishing to include in her edition any portions of 
his prohibited \\orks the censor could be induced 
to pass, introduced these under various headings, 
and such fragments were often mistaken for fresh 
works by Tolstoy, thus adding to the confusion 
which was again increased by the mistakes of care- 
less or incompetent translators. For instance, in 
an American collected edition which absurdly pro- 
fessed to be 'complete', the editor included three 
compilations a friend of Tolstoy's had made from 
undated fragments of private letters and rejected 
drafts. Against the publication of these Tolstoy 
issued a protest, saying that he refused to be held 
responsible for them. 

The premature publication of part of a work as 
though it were complete often placed editors in 
a difficulty when the rest of the work was subse- 
quently released, and they took little trouble to 
explain what had happened. The collected edi- 
tions of Tolst6y's works originally published in 



viii INTRODUCTION 

America arc therefore far from doing him justice 

or rendering it easy for readers to understand his 

works. 

Tolstoy once remarked that a chief quality of an 
artist is to know what to strike out, and said that 
he wished to be judged only by works he himself 
had selected for publication and of which he had 
corrected the proofs. When he died, however, he 
authorized his friend V. G. Chertkov to deal with 
his writings as he thought best, and Chertkov 
decided to publish everything, including a mass 
of posthumous stories and diaries, neither of which 
were in Tolstoy's opinion worth publishing, as he 
told me the year before he died. 

The collected library Centenary Edition was the 
first in any language to present his works in due 
sequence and to assemble in separate volumes what 
he wrote on various subjects. The same transla- 
tions are given in the volumes of the World's 
Classics, but as these are sold separately the reader 
has not the same guidance as to the sequence and 
development of Tolst6y's thought. 

Considering how previous editions have been 
arranged, it is scarcely surprising that Mr. Naza- 
rofTs well-written biography of Tolstoy published 
in 1930 should be entitled Tolstdy, the Inconstant 
Genius. That no doubt represents a very common 
opinion, but it is really quite wide of the mark 
for very few men have ever been so consistent as 
Tolst6y in the pursuit of a single aim: that of 
uniting all men. He never lost sight of the vision 
which delighted him in boyhood, when his brother 
Nicholas told of the 'green stick, the inscription on 
which would, when disclosed, make all men happy 
... no one would be angry with anybody and all 
would love one another 5 . And his constant and 
conscious desire throughout the last thirty years 



INTRODUCTION be 

of his life was that all men should be united in 
such a clear view of truth that all discord, strife, 
and enmity among them would end. 

Every subject he dealt with whether it was 
religion, war, art, or anything else he approached 
from that one central outlook, and the underlying 
connexion of them all is easy to perceive. To-day, 
for instance, when the nations are actively arming 
against one another, one notes in his Confession 
that a main cause of his questioning the teachings 
of the Church was the fact that it approved of war 
or connived at it. 

In What is Art? he points out that by means of art 
feelings are transmitted from man to man and thus 
become general. 

For ages much of the world's best art, and not 
the best art only Homer's battles, David's re- 
joicings at the destruction of his enemies, the story 
of how well Horatius kept the bridge in the brave 
days of old, Henry V's heroics, The Battle of the 
Baltic, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Kipling's 
The Soldiers of the Queen, and similar works in all 
countries has caused succeeding generations to 
regard war as a glorious adventure to be welcomed 
and enjoyed. 

How, then, can we reasonably hope for permanent 
peace in the atmosphere produced by so potent 
an organ? Modification or rearrangement of the 
League of Nations is of minor importance com- 
pared with the influence of art, but this is as yet 
hardly recognized and Tolstoy's works on the sub- 
ject have been met by ridicule and denunciation, 
though no one else has so clearly shown how potent 
is the influence of art on all phases of life, and how 
necessary for the betterment of human life a due 
understanding of that influence is. 

A curious instance of the difficulties the attempt 



x INTRODUCTION 

to convey Tolst6y's meaning to our public has 
encountered, occurred in connexion with the book 
just referred to. Tolstoy entrusted the translation 
of What is Art? to me, but left the arrangements 
for its publication to his literary factotum, Mr. 
V. G. Chertk6v. The latter injudiciously entrusted 
the book to a third-rate publishing house, The 
Brotherhood Publishing Company. The manager 
of that firm received the translation in advance 
of the book's appearance in Russia and before it 
reached any other country. Noticing that it con- 
tained a chapter which mentioned in scathing 
terms some forty French poets, novelists, and 
painters of the day, he unscrupulously sold that 
chapter for publication in a Paris monthly maga- 
zine in advance of the book's publication. The 
other chapters explain Tolstoy's attitude towards 
the artists he mentioned symbolists, decadents, 
and others but when this chapter appeared by 
itself in the magazine they took it as a gratuitous, 
unprovoked, and personal assault, and directly the 
book came out it was virulently attacked, grossly 
misrepresented, ridiculed, and denounced by 
almost the whole literary, artistic, and critical world 
of Paris. 

The excitement aroused in Paris influenced the 
book's reception in England. Directly it appeared 
Mr. H. D. Traill, the editor of Literature (the fore- 
runner of the Times Literary Supplement) , had a 
leading article on it in which he said that 'there 
never was any reason for inferring . . . that Count 
Tolstoi's (sic) opinions on the philosophy of art 
would be worth the paper on which they are 
written'. He added that he held himself absolved 
from discussing Count Tolstoi's (sic) 'fantastic 
doctrines seriously', but remarked that their ex- 
pounder 'surpasses all other advocates of this same 



INTRODUCTION xi 

theory in perverse unreason', and that 'this is 
Tolstoi's (sic) chief distinction among aesthetic 
circle-squarers. . . . Nobody, however eminent as a 
novelist, has any business to invite his fellow-men 
to step with him outside the region of sanity and 
sit down beside him like Alice beside the Hatter 
and the March Hare for the solemn examination 
of so lunatic a thesis as this . . . clotted nonsense.' 

Other critics hardly went to such an extreme of 
ridicule and denunciation, but most of them took 
more or less the same line of declining to discuss 
Tolstoy's theory seriously and imputing to him 
absurdities he had not uttered, so that they 
practically invited Bernard Shaw's remark that 
4 the book is a most effective booby-trap. It is 
written with so utter a contempt for the objections 
which the routine critic is sure to allege against 
it, that many a dilettantist reviewer has already 
accepted it as a butt set up by Providence to show 
off his own brilliant marksmanship'. Shaw added, 
of Tolstoy's chief assault on the prevalent aesthetic 
theory of that day, that 'our generation has not 
seen a heartier bout of literary fisticuffs, nor one 
in which the challenger has been more brilliantly 
victorious'. 

One of Tolstoy's opinions that particularly 
exasperated the professional aestheticians was his 
statement that since art is the transmission of 
feeling from man to man, to be susceptible to the 
influence of art it is essential not to have lost 'that 
simple feeling familiar to the plainest man and 
even to a child, the sense of infection with another's 
feeling compelling us to rejoice in another's 
gladness, to sorrow at another's grief, and to mingle 
souls with another which is the very essence of 
art'. They were especially provoked by his saying 
that many people who have become specialists in 



xii INTRODUCTION 

one or other branch of art have by this very 
specialization of their life and occupation perverted 
that simple feeling, and become immune to art 
with which they deal so eruditely while children, 
savages, and peasants who are not perverted in 
that way and have retained their capacity to share 
the feelings of others, can readily respond to such 
art as is suitable for them. 

What the critics particularly objected to was the 
statement that for c a country peasant of unper- 
verted taste 5 (that is, a man who can share the 
feelings of his fellow men) 'it is as easy to select 
the work of art he requires (which infects him with 
the feeling experienced by the artist) as it is for 
an animal of unspoilt scent to follow the trace he 
needs among a thousand others in wood or forest'. 

This was fantastically misrepresented as claiming 
for the peasant some peculiar quality making him 
a touchstone or criterion of art not only of the 
work of art he requires, but of all art of all ages and 
all nations and all classes of mankind. In other 
words it was supposed to show that Tolstoy was 
a semi-lunatic; whereas what he claimed for the 
child, the savage, and the peasant, he claimed for 
every man namely, that if he has not perverted 
his capacity to share another's feelings, he will 
have retained the capacity to respond to the art 
he requires. 

Given the personal animosity aroused by the 
premature publication of a detached chapter of the 
book, and the readiness of critics at a time of excite- 
ment to repeat what someone else has emphatically 
declared, it is not very strange that the first reception 
of the book should have been so hostile. What is 
extraordinary is the tenacity with which this absurd 
misrepresentation has been repeated during a whole 
generation and is still kept alive. 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

What is Art? was published in 1898, and in 1919 
George Moore dealt with it in his Avowals. He 
tells us ofTolst6y that 

'in imitation of the early hermits he elected to live in a 
sheeling, but in a sheeling that communicates with folding 
doors with his wife's apartment. And he will not sleep 
upon a spring-mattress, he must have a feather-bed, the 
one he sleeps upon costs more than any spring- mattress. 
His rooms are quite plain, but to paint and heat them 
to his liking workmen had to be brought from England.' 

All this the sbeeling, the folding doors, the 
feather-bed, the painting and special heating of 
his room, as well as the 'workmen brought from 
England' is pure invention with no scrap of 
foundation in fact, and is in flat contradiction to 
the evidence of those who knew Tolst6y and lived 
with him. Its apparent object is to prejudice the 
reader and prepare him to accept the misrepre- 
sentation of Tolstoy's works which follows. Moore 
suggests that Tolstoy's touchstone of art was the 
peasant, and adds: 

'Which peasant, we ask Russian, English, or French? 
Is he or she fifteen or sixty? Is he or she the most 
intelligent in the village? Or is he or she the least 
intelligent? are the questions put to Tolstoy, and his 
answer is: The peasant representing the average in- 
telligence of the village. Why should the lowest intelli- 
gence be excluded ? If the peasant is the best judge of 
what is art, why should not the best art be produced by 
peasants ?' 

Now, it is simply untrue that Tolstoy gave any 
such answer. Moore invents it to add verisimilitude 
to the otherwise bald and unconvincing assertion 
that Tolstoy's touchstone of art is the peasant. He 
finishes off his remarkable effort in criticism by 
asking what is 
'the value of this exhibition of Tolst6y's hard, isolated, 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

tenacious apprehensions? It seems/ he says, 'that 
Nature has answered this question by devising a death 
for Tolstoy that reads so like an admonition that we 
cannot but suspect the eternal wisdom of a certain 
watchfulness over human life. . . . Can we doubt that 
Saint Helena, with Napoleon gazing blankly at the 
ocean, carries a meaning, and is not the end that Nature 
devised for Tolst6y as significant, a flight from his wife 
and home in his eighty-second year and his death in the 
waiting-room of a wayside station in the early hours of 
a March morning?' 

Had George Moore lived to read Count Sergius 
Tolstoy's book, The Final Struggle, he might not 
have been so sure of Nature's purpose. But let it 
here suffice to notice that, in addition to the other 
mis-statements of which his article is full, he 
manages to cram three more into that last sentence. 
Tolstoy was not in his eighty-second year but in his 
eighty-third, he died not in a waiting-room but 
in a house the station-master had vacated for his 
use, and unless Moore thought it sounded well, I 
do not know why he should say that Tolst6y died 
'in the early hours of a March morning', when he 
actually died in November. 

In fact, George Moore was writing very spitefully 
about a man of whom he knew very little and 
about a book he completely misunderstood. It is 
surprising to find Miss Rebecca West acclaiming 
his article as 'among the major glories of English 
criticism', but that, too, is a reminder that the fit of 
hysteria that affected the literary world when What 
is Art? appeared, with its bold attempt to set art 
on a new basis, has not yet quite died down, though 
nearly forty years have passed since its publication. 

The survival of the myth of a peasantry that 
furnishes a touchstone for art is indicated by two 
recent publications. Gerald Abraham's well- written 
and generally impartial life of Tolst6y (Duck- 



INTRODUCTION xv 

worth's Great Lives Series, 1935) repeated the state- 
ment that Tolstoy considered he had found a 'surer 
touchstone than his own individual taste in the taste 
of the ideal peasant, or, as we should say, the plain 
man who knows what he likes'. And Mr. H. W. 
Garrod, in a Taylorian Lecture published by the 
Clarendon Press, says that for Tolstoy 'the judge 
of art is not the intelligent man; he is in fact the 
peasant 5 . In a subsequent letter, however, he made 
the penetrating remark that when Tolstoy attri- 
butes a capacity to recognize art to a peasant 
whose natural qualities have not been perverted 
by spurious art or otherwise '. . . he is saying of the 
peasant what would be equally true of the noble- 
man, and in respect of either tautologous'. That 
hits the nail precisely on the head, and had critics 
perceived it from the first, all this pother about the 
peasant's exceptional appreciation of art would 
never have arisen. 

It all shows how badly needed is an edition 
properly grouping together Tolstoy's articles on 
kindred subjects. In the Oxford Press editions What 
is Art? is followed by an article by Tolstoy on a 
German novel he liked. In that article he says: 

'To that enormously important question, "What, of 
all that has been written, is one to read ?" only real 
criticism can furnish a reply: criticism which, as Matthew 
Arnold says, sets itself the task of bringing to the front 
and pointing out to people all that is best, both in former 
and in contemporary writers. 

'On whether such disinterested criticism, which under- 
stands and loves art and is independent of any party, 
makes its appearance or not, and on whether its autho- 
rity becomes sufficiently established for it to be stronger 
than mercenary advertisement, depends, in my opinion, 
the decision of the question whether the last rays of 
enlightenment are to perish in our so-called European 
society without having reached the masses of the people, 



xvi INTRODUCTION 

or whether they will revive as they did in the Middle 
Ages, and reach the great mass of the people who are 
now without any enlightenment.' 

That makes it perfectly clear that Tolstoy did 
not imagine that an unaided peasant would be 
able to select for himself the best that has been 
written. But those who attack What is Art? have 
generally not read what else Tolst6y wrote on the 
subject, and to make it appear that Tolstoy was 
talking nonsense have selected a single line detached 
from the main argument. 

It is probably due to the abuse with which What 
is Art? was originally received that it has been 
generally ignored by writers on aesthetics despite 
its originality and the great practical importance 
of an understanding of the relation in which art 
stands to the rest of life. 

Bosanquet's Aesthetics, for instance, does not 
even mention it, and Croce dismisses it in two 
slighting sentences. 

The article on Famine Relief in this volume is 
the last one of a series written during the two years 
that Tolstoy and his daughters devoted to the 
arduous task of organizing relief on a large scale 
in the famine district. The Government wished 
it not to be known that there was a famine, and 
Tolstoy's articles were forbidden by the censor. 
But when a translation of some of them appeared 
in the Daily Telegraph in January 1892, one was 
promptly and inexactly retranslated by the re- 
actionary Moscow Gazette, which supplemented it 
by extracts from other writings of Tolst6y's so 
arranged as to suggest that he was inciting the 
peasants to revolt. The Gazette added a demand 
that he should be suppressed as a dangerous 
revolutionary, and that cry was taken up by other 
reactionary papers. Matters went so far that 



INTRODUCTION xvii 

Durnovo, the Minister of the Interior, submitted a 
proposal to the Tsar that Tolst6y should be confined 
in Suzdal Monastery prison (where two Uniate 
Bishops, after twenty-three years' confinement, had 
been forgotten by the authorities who had had them 
arrested) . The Tsar rejected the proposal, but that 
was far from being the end of the attacks upon 
Tolstoy. 

He was reproached with having published abuse 
of Russia in the English papers, and while he 
was engaged in the famine district of Riazan his 
wife sent a letter to the papers denying that he 
had sent anything to any English paper. This was 
verbally correct, but was misleading in its sugges- 
tion that the translation of his Famine Article in 
the Daily Telegraph was a fabrication. Dr. Dillon 
(who had translated it for the Daily Telegraph, but 
whose name had not appeared* there) saw a first- 
rate opportunity to advertise himself and estab- 
lish connexion with influential individuals and 
groups in Church and State who were bent on 
Tolstoy's destruction. Though Tolstoy gave him 
a written acknowledgement that the article in 
question was genuine, this did not prevent Dillon 
from insinuating that Tolstoy had equivocated, 
treated him badly, and failed to stick to his guns. 
These insinuations were eagerly taken up by the 
reactionary Russian press, and complications and 
misunderstandings were piled one on another. As 
it happens, a prolonged examination of Dr. Dillon's 
accusation is rendered unnecessary by his posthu- 
mous volume which appeared in 1934, having for 
frontispiece a facsimile of part of a letter written 
by Tolst6y in Russian, to which is appended the 
underline: 'Tolstoy's letter of apology to Dillon 
for repudiation of his word.' This is evidently 
intended to impress readers with the reliability 



xviii INTRODUCTION 

and authenticity of Dillon's book. But fortunately 
the letter of which he reproduced a portion has 
been published in full in Russia, and proves not to 
be what Dr. Dillon represents it as being, but 
merely to contain an expression of Tolstoy's regret 
for having omitted to answer a letter. 

That discreditable trick is characteristic of 
Dr. Dillon's tactics throughout the affair, as well 
as of the tactics pursued by the Moscow Gazette and 
the reactionary press generally. 

During Tolstoy's absence in the famine district 
pressure was brought to bear on his family by 
the Governor-General of Moscow, who wanted 
them to secure from Tolstoy a substantiation of his 
wife's published suggestion that he had not written 
the articles attributed to him. His wife accordingly 
tried to get him to write something to placate 
the authorities and lessen the danger he was in. 
But he w r ould do nothing of the kind, and in his 
reply to her said: 

'I write what I think and what cannot please the 
Government or the wealthy classes. I have been doing 
this for the last twelve years not casually but deliberately, 
and do not intend to justify myself for so doing. . . . Only 
ignorant people of whom the most ignorant are those 
who form the Court reading what I have written can 
suppose that views such as mine can suddenly change 
one fine day and become revolutionary.' 

Though Tolstoy was not physically molested he 
was persistently harassed and persecuted. During 
his famine work he was repeatedly denounced 
from the pulpit as Antichrist, and later on he was 
excommunicated by the Holy Synod. His secretary 
and several of his friends were banished and his 
life repeatedly threatened by reactionary patriots 
who were exasperated by his exposure of govern- 
mental abuses and his condemnation of prepara- 



INTRODUCTION xix 

tions for war, the persecution of dissenters, and the 
discovery and announcement by the Church of 
the 'incorruptible' bodies of newly devised saints. 

Surrounded as Tolstoy was by obstacles, dis- 
couragements, and dangers during those years of 
strenuous famine-relief work, it is wonderful that 
he found time and energy to write The Kingdom 
of God is Within Tou, the twelfth chapter of which 
is an artistic gem comparable to his other auto- 
biographical masterpieces in Confession and What 
Then Must We Do? 

It was with reference especially to this period of 
Tolstoy's life that Bernard Shaw (after making a 
passing reference to the Russian saying that 'nothing 
matters provided the baby is not crying') wrote: 

'If you have a baby who can speak with Tsars in the 
gate, who can make Europe and America stop and 
listen when he opens his mouth, who can smite with 
unerring aim straight at the sorest spots in the world's 
conscience, who can break through all censorships and 
all barriers of language, who can thunder on the gates 
of the most terrible prisons in the world and place his 
neck under the keenest and bloodiest axes only to find 
that for him the gates dare not open and the axes dare 
not fall, then indeed you have a baby that must be 
nursed and coddled and petted and let go his own way.* 

It remains to say something about the other 
articles in this volume. 

Most of the Recollections appear now for the first 
time in English. No precise date can be given to 
them, for they are a collection of rough, unrevised 
notes jotted down by Tolstoy at various times, not 
for publication but for the information of friends 
and biographers who asked for them. They are, 
however, so characteristic of Tolstoy and show so 
keenly treasured a memory of his happy boyhood, 
that though they are disjointed it seemed a pity 



xx INTRODUCTION 

to omit them. They do not provide a connected 
narrative of his early years, but I have brought 
them together in what seems a natural sequence. 
Some of them have already been given in vol. i of 
my Life of Tolstoy in this edition, and wherever 
such citations are of any length I have, to avoid 
repetition, referred to the page where they can 
be found. When, owing to the disjointed nature 
of these recollections, it seemed desirable to insert 
some comment of my own, this has been done in 
square brackets. 

The other contents of the volume are chiefly 
essays dealing in Tolst6y's masterly manner with 
important subjects, and it is remarkable to note 
how fresh and topical they still are some forty years 
after they were written. 

Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves? is probably as 
powerful and persuasive an essay as was ever 
written on the evils of drink. Tolstoy was as keen 
on that subject as any Prohibitionist in the United 
States, but his non-resistant views saved him from 
the error of wishing to invoke the aid of physical 
force and Prohibition Laws to combat the evil he 
deplored. 

The First Step, the best vegetarian essay I ever 
read, is still as applicable and persuasive as when 
it was penned. 

Non-Acting, apart from the interest of juxtaposing 
Zola's speech and Dumas's article, presents Tolst6y 5 s 
view of a question the understanding of which is as 
necessary for the welfare of mankind now as it was 
then. 

Modern Science, Tolst6y's introduction to an essay 
of Edward Carpenter's, deals with a matter on 
which his views (not always expressed with due 
moderation) have often been misunderstood. It 
may be considered a companion article to his reply 



INTRODUCTION xxi 

to Thomas Huxley's Romanes Lecture of 1894 
(given in the essay Religion and Morality in the volume 
On Life and Essays on Religion), which goes to the 
root of a matter of vital importance that still sorely 
perplexes many minds. 

The Introduction to Ruskin is a note Tolstoy con- 
tributed to a booklet of extracts from Ruskin issued 
by the Posrednik firm that did so much to make 
first-rate literature accessible to the Russian people. 

Letters on Henry George and A Great Iniquity deal 
with a matter on which Tolstoy felt very strongly. 
He sympathized with the peasants' grievance at 
having to go short of land while men who did not 
work on it owned large estates which some of them 
had never even seen. Henry George's plan for the 
taxation of land -values seemed to him by far the 
most just and practicable way of dealing with 
the matter; and looking back now, one can see how 
much the adoption of that plan would have done 
to mitigate the worst evils of the Revolution that 
was then approaching. 

Allowing the peasants' grievances to rankle 
enabled the Revolutionaries to set them against 
the landed proprietors and created the confusion 
amid which it was possible for a small group of 
men to seize absolute power. Had the Henry 
George system been adopted, not only could the 
peasants' taxation have been greatly lightened but 
the peasants would have seen that the possession 
of land carried with it an obligation to contribute 
to the public expenditure and would therefore 
have been less eager to seize it and less credulous of 
the promises made by the Revolutionaries. 

The introduction of that system would also have 
done much to save the landowners from the whole- 
sale expropriation they had to endure in 1917 and 
1918. This was one of many instances in which 



xxii INTRODUCTION 

Tolstoy saw further and more clearly into a complex 
problem than the 'practical' men who refused to 
listen to his advice. 

Thou Shalt Not Kill relates to the assassination 
of King Humbert of Italy by an anarchist in 1900. 
It forcibly expresses Tolstoy's conviction that it is 
an evil thing whether for private individuals or for 
kings to kill their fellow men. 

Bethink Yourselves!, written at the time of the 
Japanese war, was once more a dangerous article 
for Tolstoy to write while efforts were being made 
to arouse patriotic enthusiasm among the people. 
His fearlessness in uttering what no one else could 
say with such power was one of the qualities that 
marked him out as standing head and shoulders 
above any of his contemporaries. He appeared 
as a hero and a prophet and not merely a great 
writer. What is said in Bethink Yourselves! had to 
a large extent been said before in The Kingdom of 
God is Within You and Christianity and Patriotism, but 
its immediate application to the facts of the Russo- 
Japanese war and to the state of Russia at that 
preliminary stage of the Revolution added to the 
significance of a message that was equally appli- 
cable ten years later at the time of the Great War 
and will still be as applicable when the next war 
comes. 

The long article on Shakespeare and the Drama 
would have placed me in a dilemma had it not 
fortunately happened that Professor G. Wilson 
Knight, an ardent admirer of the English dramatist 
and an acknowledged authority on his works, has 
dealt very ably with it in his article Shakespeare 
and Tolstoy, published by the English Association. 
Few readers of Shakespeare would fail to benefit 
by a careful perusal of Tolst6y's attack and Wilson 
Knight's defence. The professor is so sure of his 



INTRODUCTION xxiii 

ground that he can afford to be just to Tolstoy, and 
in the course of his article he says: 

'We find "characterization" not only not the Shakespear- 
ian essence, but actually the most penetrable spot to 
adverse criticism that may be discovered in his technique. 
Thence two great minds have directed their hostility 
Tolstoy and Bridges. I shall show that those attacks on 
Shakespeare, often perfectly justifiable within limits, are 
yet based on a fundamental misunderstanding of his 
art; but that such misunderstanding is nevertheless 
extremely significant and valuable, since it forces our 
appreciation and interpretation from excessive psycho- 
logies of "character" . . . into the true substance and 
solidity of Shakespeare's dramatic poetry.' 

In another passage he speaks of Tolstoy's Essays 
on Art as 

'a massive collection of some of the most masculine, 
incisive, and important criticism that exists: all, whether 
we agree or disagree, of so rock-like an integrity and 
simplicity that its effect is invariably tonic and in- 
vigorating, and often points us directly, as in this essay- 
on Shakespeare, to facts before unobserved, yet both 
obvious and extremely significant.' 

What V to be Done?, written amid the strikes and 
disturbances of the first revolution (in 1905-6), was 
a fresh statement of Tolstoy's conviction that no 
good would result from men killing one another. 
For much more than a thousand years physical 
force has been relied on to secure peace and 
harmony among mankind. But an increasingly 
large number of men now seem to object to being 
killed or even to preparing to kill other people. 
The progress of science in the preparation of deadly 
bacterial bombs and poison gases and improved 
flying-machines has brought us within easy reach 
of utter destruction; but Tolstoy thought that it 
was not too much to hope that, before we all perish, 



xxiv INTRODUCTION 

we may have time to face the fundamental question 
whether reliance on wholesale or retail murder 
does afford the best hope for the physical and 
spiritual salvation of mankind. Man's body must 
in any case perish, and to imperil his soul by 
relying on murder to safeguard his life and pro- 
perty seemed to Tolst6y both senseless and wicked. 

Of all that Tolst6y wrote in his last year, I Cannot 
Be Silent produced the greatest sensation in Russia. 
Its occasion was the introduction by Stolypin, 
the Prime Minister, of field courts-martial which 
hanged many revolutionaries, or people accused 
of being such. This outraged Tolstoy's pro- 
foundest feelings. Since the time of Catherine the 
Great the death penalty had, at least theoreti- 
cally, been abolished in Russia; and though men 
had not infrequently been done to death in the 
army and in prisons, the idea of formally, delibe- 
rately, and publicly putting them to death outraged 
Tolst6y's soul, and gave an incisive vigour to his 
protest which aroused a responsive thrill from one 
end of the country to the other. Specially moving 
was his wish that if 'these inhuman deeds' were 
not stopped '. . . they may put on me, as on those 
twelve or twenty persons, a shroud and a cap, and 
may push me too off a bench, so that by my own 
weight I may tighten the well-soaped noose round 
my old throat'. 

His protest was against the taking of human 
life whether by the government or by the revolu- 
tionaries, but the sensation the article occasioned 
was increased by the fact that the anti-govern- 
mental parties found it a convenient instrument 
wherewith to discredit the Tsardom. 

The English Labour Party published it as a 
penny pamphlet under the quite misleading title 
of The Hanging Tsar, though its argument was no 



INTRODUCTION xxv 

more directed against the one side than the other, and 
if any one man was indicated as the chief culprit it 
was Stotypin and not the Tsar. Such attempts to 
make party capital out of Tolstoy's moral appeal 
largely defeated his purpose, and when the Revolu- 
tion came those who seized the dictatorship slew 
many tens of thousands where Stolypin had only 
slain hundreds. 

The Letter to a Hindu and the Gandhi Letters deal 
with a matter which may become of great im- 
portance in the future. Tolstoy not only thought 
that wars and all violence between man and man 
should cease, but he sought for practical means 
towards furthering that end. One of the most 
potent of these seemed to him to be passive resis- 
tance which, if practised by a whole population 
refusing to serve or in any way assist those who 
rule over them, would render such rule impossible. 
The chief example of such an attempt to get rid 
of a foreign domination has been the Non-co- 
operation movement Gandhi formulated ten years 
after Tolstoy's death. That movement failed 
partly because there were some among the Hindus 
who still relied on violence, and partly because 
the Mohammedan section of the population of 
India were not at one with the Hindus. But the 
strength the movement attained made it a serious 
challenge to British rule in India at that time, and 
indicated that under other circumstances Non-co- 
operation may some day play a decisive role in 
deciding the fate of a nation or a government. 

As disapproval of war spreads among mankind, 
more and more people will seek practical means 
of preventing it, and even from that practical side 
it would be unwise to leave what Tolstoy wrote on 
the subject unconsidered. 

Another practical movement of which Tolstoy 



xxvi INTRODUCTION 

was a main instigator was the migration of over 
seven thousand Doukhobors from the Caucasus to 
Canada in 1898. They had refused military service 
and suffered severe persecution which caused 
many deaths among them. An arrangement was 
made with the Canadian government that they 
might settle in Canada under an agreement 
exempting them from any form of conscription or 
military service. Their number has now, I believe, 
more than doubled, and comparing their fate with 
that of other inhabitants of the Caucasus during 
the Great War and the subsequent Civil War in 
Russia, there is no room to doubt that they have 
benefited by the migration Tolstoy made possible 
for them. Some among them have shown them- 
selves fanatics, unreasonably suspicious of and 
hostile to the Canadian (or any other) govern- 
ment, and that renders their example less attractive 
than it otherwise would be, but the main fact 
stands out clearly. Several thousand men by 
steadfastly withstanding conscription in their own 
country secured exemption from military service 
in the country to which they migrated, and thereby 
escaped the dreadful suffering and disasters that 
would have befallen them had they been willing 
to be trained to slay their fellow men. If, as seems 
probable, the objection to war many people feel 
is to take practical form in the future, the Dou- 
khobors and Gandhi's Non-co-operation move- 
ment deserve to be kept in remembrance, adding 
as they do a note of actuality and practicality to 
what Tolst6y has written against war and the use 
of physical violence. 

In the Letter to a Japanese Tolstoy gives his un- 
known correspondent a summary of what he con- 
sidered to be 'the truth that has been preached by 
all the great thinkers of the world', and applies 



I VI RODUCTION xxvii 

it to the question of military service. It was written 
in the year that Tolstoy died, and when quoting 
from the book For Every Day which he was then 
engaged on compiling he made a slip which can 
surprise no one who has read The Final Struggle 
and realizes the very trying conditions under which 
he was then living. 

The Wisdom of Child* en is in a style Tolstoy only 
tried experimentally and during the last months 
of his life. He left it unfinished and unrevised, and 
there are signs of the off-hand method of its com- 
position. In it he broke fresh ground at the very 
end of his life \\ hen living under conditions which 
would have rendered literary work impossible to 
almost anyone else. 

Tolstoy is a foreign writer who died a quarter 
of a century ago, of whose works two collected 
editions were entrenched in our public libraries 
and served as a hindrance to the recognition of his 
calibre as a great thinker, as well as a novelist, 
dramatist, autobiographer, and critic. It was 
therefore a doubtful venture for any publisher to 
undertake a new edition of his works the success 
of which would depend largely on whether 
librarians and library committees could be brought 
to realize that Tolstoy's works are valuable and 
that those previous editions conceal their value. 

For a long time no one was ready to undertake 
so large and doubtful a venture, and everyone who 
values Tolstoy's works and thinks that a readable 
and reliable version of them is worth having owes 
a debt of gratitude to Sir Humphrey Milford for 
undertaking the publication of the Centenary 
Edition, the translations of which (minus the 
frontispieces and the special introductions) are 
reproduced in the volumes of the World's Classics 
series. While matters hung in the balance the 



xxviii INTRODUCTION 

publication of the Centenary Edition was en- 
couraged by the generosity of more than twenty 
distinguished English and American writers in con- 
tributing Introductions for its volumes. They 
nearly all did so gratuitously a noteworthy testi- 
mony to the esteem in which Tolstoy was held. The 
American contingent, consisting of Jane Addams, 
Hamlin Garland, Madeline Mason-Manheim, Pro- 
fessors G. R. Noyes and W. Lyon Phelps, and the 
Hon. Brand Whitlock, contributed particularly 
helpful and suitable articles which well match 
those provided by John Galsworthy, Harley Gran- 
ville-Barker, Hugh Walpole, and the best of the 
other English contributors. 

The General Index prepared for that edition is 
reprinted at the end of this volume, as it provides 
readers with a classified list of Tolst6y's works. 

In conclusion, let me acknowledge an obligation 
to Mr. H. W. Garrod, who has drawn my attention 
to the obscurity of a passage on p. 12 of Tolstdy on 
Art and its Critics. I there said that Tolstoy was 
'not speaking of the mass of the peasantry, but of 
a not very common individual . . .'. That is mis- 
leading, for the claim Tolst6y makes for the peasant 
he makes for all men namely that if they are 
capable of sharing another's feelings, they can be 
reached by the influence of art that is suitable for 
them. 

AYLMER MAUDE. 



INTRODUCTION 

By LEO TOLST6Y to his 'Recollections* 

This and the 'Recollections' that follow are rough un- 
corrected drafts Tolst6y never revised or prepared for the 
press. They include what he gave to Birukov, to Lowen- 
feld his German biographer, to Paul Boyer, and others 
who wrote about him. 

Some earlier autobiographical recollections, published 
in 1878, have been given on pp. 10 to 15 of vol. i of the 
Life of Tolstoy in this edition. 

MY friend P. Biruk6v having undertaken to write 
my biography for a French edition of my works 
asked me to supply him with some biographical 
information. 

I wanted to do what he asked and began men- 
tally to plan my biography. Involuntarily at firs* 
I began to recall only the good in my life, merely 
adding what was dark and bad in my conduct and 
actions like shades in a picture. Reflecting more 
seriously on the events of my life, however, I saw 
that such a biography, though not absolutely false, 
would be false by reason of its incorrect illumina- 
tion its presentation of what was good and its 
silence as to, or smoothing over of, all that was bad. 
But when I thought of writing the whole sincere 
truth, not hiding anything that was bad in my life, I 
was horrified at the impression such a biography 
must produce. Just at that time I fell ill. 1 And 
during the involuntary idleness caused by my ill. 
ness my thoughts constantly turned to recollections, 
and those recollections were terrifying. 

1 This was written in 1902, when Tolst6y was recovering 
from a prolonged and very severe illness. A. M. 

459 



2 INTRODUCTION TO 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

I experienced profoundly what Pushkin speaks 
of in his poem Remembrance : 

'When for us mortals silent grows the noisy day 

And on the hushed streets of the city 

Descend the night's semi-translucent shadows grey 

And sleep, reward of day-time labour, 

Then comes the time for me when in the silence deep, 

All through the night's enforced leisure 

Long dismal hours of sleepless torment slowly creep. 

Remorse within my heart burns fiercely, 

My mind is seething and my weary aching brain 

With hosts of bitter thoughts is crowded, 

And old disgraceful memories of shame, with pain 

Unwind their heavy roll in silence. 

As with disgust the record of my life I face, 

I curse, chastise myself and shudder, 

And bitter tears I shed, but never can efface 

The lines of my unhappy story.' 

The only change I would make would be in the 
last line, where I would put 'disgraceful' instead of 
^unhappy'. 

Under the influence of this impression I wrote 
as follows in my Diary. 

'January 6th 1903. 

'I am now experiencing the torments of hell: I 
remember all the vileness of my former life and 
those recollections poison my life and do not leave 
rne. People often express regret that man's memory 
will not survive death. But how fortunate that it 
does not! What torture it would be if in a future 
life I remembered all the bad things I have done 
in this life and that now torment my conscience. 
But if I am to remember the good I must also 
remember all the bad. How fortunate it is that 
memory disappears with death and only con- 
sciousness remains consciousness which presents 
as it were the common resultant of the good and 
the bad like a complex equation reduced to its 



INTRODUCTION TO 'RECOLLECTIONS' 3 
simplest form : x = a quantity which may be large 
or small, positive or negative. 

'Yes, the destruction of memories is a great 
happiness. With memory it would be impossible 
to live joyfully. But with the destruction of 
memories we can enter into a life with clean white 
slates on which we can write afresh, good and bad. 

'It is true that not all my life was so terribly bad. 
Only twenty years of it was that. And it is true that 
during that period it was not the continuous evil 
it appeared to me to be during my illness, and that 
during that period, too, good impulses arose in 
me though they did not long prevail but were soon 
overwhelmed by passions. But still that effort of 
reflection especially during my illness showed 
me clearly that a biography written as biographies 
usually are and passing in silence over all the 
nastiness and guilt of my life, would be false, and 
that if a biography is to be written the whole real 
truth must be told. Only a biography of that kind 
however ashamed one may be to write it can be 
of any real benefit to its readers. Reflecting on it 
in that way, regarding it, that is, from the stand- 
point of good and evil, I saw that my whole long 
life falls into four periods: that wonderful period 
(especially in comparison with what followed) of 
innocent, joyful, poetic childhood up to fourteen; 
then the terrible twenty years that followed a 
period of coarse dissoluteness, employed in the 
service of ambition, vanity, and above all of lust; 
then the eighteen-year period from my marriage to 
my spiritual birth which from a worldly point 
of view may be called moral, that is to say, that 
during those eighteen years I lived a correct, honest, 
family life, not practising any vices condemned by 
social opinion, though all the interests of that period 
were limited to egotistic cares for the family, the 



4 INTRODUCTION TO 'RECOLLECTIONS' 
increase of our property, the attainment of literary 
success, and pleasures of all kinds : and finally the 
fourth, twenty-year, period in which I am now living 
and in which I hope to die, from the standpoint 
of which I see the meaning of my past life, and 
which I should not wish to alter in any respect 
except for the effects of the evil habits to which I 
grew accustomed in the former periods. 

'I should like to write a perfectly truthful story 
of those four periods if God grants me the life and 
strength to do it. I think my biography written in 
such a manner would be of more use to people, in 
spite of its great defects, than all the artistic chatter 
that fills the twelve volumes of my works 1 and to 
which people of our day attribute more importance 
than they deserve. 

'I now wish to do that. I will first tell of the joyful 
period of my childhood, which attracts me parti- 
cularly; then, however shameful it may be, I will 
recount the terrible twenty years of the next period 
without concealing anything. Then I will deal 
with the third period, which is of less interest than 
the others, and finally will tell of the last period of 
my awakening to the truth which has given me the 
highest good in life and a joyful tranquillity in 
regard to my approaching death. 

'In order not to repeat myself when describing 
the period of childhood, I have re-read what I 
wrote under that title, and felt regret that I wrote 
it; so ill and (in a literary sense) insincerely is it 
written. Nor could it be otherwise, for in the first 
place my plan was to relate not my own story but 

1 At that time, January 1903, those of Tolst6y's works 
allowed in Russia were published in a collected edition of 
twelve volumes. His works on religion, social problems, war, 
and violence were generally suppressed by the Censor. 
A. M. 



INTRODUCTION TO 'RECOLLECTIONS' 5 

that of my childhood's friends, and as a result 
there is an ill-proportioned mixture of the events 
of their childhood and my own, 1 and in the second 
place I was far from being independent in my 
forms of expression at the time it was written, but 
was much under the influence of two writers 
Sterne (the Sentimental Journey) and Topffer 2 (La 
Bibliotheque de mon oncle). 

'In particular the last two parts, Boyhood and 
Touth y now displeased me. In them, besides an ill- 
proportioned mixture of fact and fiction, there is 
insincerity a wish to present as good and im- 
portant what I did not then consider good and 
important, namely, my democratic tendency. I 
hope that what I shall now write will be better, 
and particularly that it will be of more use to other 
people/ 

[ToLtoy never carried out the project of writing an autobio- 
graphy, and all he left besides the recollections published in 1878 
are the following highly characteristic fragments. A. M.] 

'RECOLLECTIONS' 

My grandmother, Pelageya Nikolaevna (Tol- 
stoy), was the daughter of the blind Prince Nicholas 
Ivanovich Gorchakov, who had accumulated a 
large fortune. As far as I can form an opinion of 
her she was a woman of limited intellect and 
education. Like all her set, she knew French better 
than Russian (that was the extent of her educa- 
tion), and was very much spoilt first by her father, 
then by her husband, and afterwards, within my 
memory, by her son. Moreover, as the daughter of 

1 Yet in some English editions Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth 
is presented as a reliable autobiography. A. M. 

2 Rodolphc Topffer (1799-1846), Swiss novelist and 
artist. A. M. 



6 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

the senior member of the family she was highly 
respected by all the Gorchakovs : Alexey Ivanovich, 
the former Minister of War, Andrew Ivanovich, and 
the sons of the freethinking Dmitri Petrovich 
Peter, Sergey, and Michael 1 who served at the 
siege of Sevastopol. 

My grandfather (her husband) also exists in my 
memory as a man of limited intelligence, very 
gentle and merry, and not only generous but sense- 
lessly prodigal, and above all very confiding. On 
his estate in the Belevski district, Polyany (not 
Yasnaya Polyana, but Polyany) , there was for a long 
time a continuous round of feasting, theatrical 
performances, balls, dinners, and outings, which, 
with his fondness for playing lombard and whist 
for high stakes (though he was a poor player) and 
his readiness to give to everyone who asked either 
for a loan or a free gift, and above all by becoming 
entangled in affairs ended by his wife's large 
estate becoming so involved in debts that they had 
nothing to live on, and my grandfather had to 
apply for and accept the Governorship of Kazan 
a post easily obtainable with such connexions as his. 

I have been told that he never accepted bribes 
(except from the spirit-monopolist) though it was 
then the generally accepted practice to do so, and 
that he was angry when any were offered him. But 
I have been told that my grandmother accepted 
contributions without her husband's knowledge. 

In Kazan my grandmother married off her 
younger daughter, Pelag^ya, to Yushkov. Her elder 
daughter, Alexandra, had already been married in 
Petersburg to Count Osten-Saken. 

After the death of her husband at Kazan and 
my father's marriage, my grandmother settled with 

1 He was commander-in-chief of the Russian forces in the 
Crimea during the siege of Sevastopol. A. M. 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 7 

my father at Yasnaya Polyana, where I well remem- 
ber her as an old woman. 

My grandmother loved my father and us, her 
grandsons, amusing herself with us. She loved my 
aunts but I fancy she did not love my mother 
much, considering her to be not good enough for 
my father and feeling jealous of his affection for 
her. With the servants she could not be exacting 
for everyone knew that she was the chief person 
in the house and sought to please her; but with 
her maid Gash a she gave way to caprice and tor- 
mented her, calling her: 'You . . . my dear,' 1 
expecting of her things that she had not asked for, 
and tormenting her in all sorts of ways. And 
curiously enough Gasha (Agafya Mikhaylovna), 2 
whom I knew well, was infected by my grand- 
mother's capriciousness, and with the girl in 
attendance on her and with her cat, and in general 
with all with whom she could be exacting, she was 
as capricious as my grandmother was with her. 

My earliest recollections of my grandmother, 
before we moved to Moscow and lived there, are 
three vivid ones. The first is the way in which she 
washed, making, with some special soap, wonderful 
bubbles on her hands which it seemed to me she 
alone could produce. We were taken specially to 
see her when she washed probably our delight 
and astonishment at her soap-bubbles amused her. 
I remember her white cap, her dressing jacket, her 
white old hands, and the immense bubbles that rose 
on them, and her white face with its satisfied smile. 

The second is of how she was drawn by my 

1 This sounded ironical, for a mistress in the ordinary 
course of things would never say 'You* but always 'Thou* to 
a servant. A. M. 

2 Agafya Mikhaylovna lived to be quite an old woman at 
Yisnaya Polyana. A. M. 



8 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

father's footmen, without a horse, in a well-sprung 
yellow cabriolet (in which we used to go driving 
with our tutor, Fedor Ivanovich) to the Little 
Forest to gather nuts, of which there were a great 
many that year. I remember the thick, close- 
growing hazel-bushes into the midst of which 
Petriishka and Matyusha (the footmen) drew the 
yellow cabriolet in which my grandmother was 
seated, and how they bent down to her the boughs 
with clusters of ripe nuts, some of which were 
already falling out of their husks. I remember how 
grandmother herself plucked them and put them 
into a bag, and how we children bent down some 
branches, as did Fedor Ivanovich, surprising us by 
his strength in bending down thick ones. We 
gathered the nuts from all sides and when Fedor 
Ivanovich let go of them the bushes, slowly dis- 
entangling themselves, resumed their proper shape, 
and still others remained that we had overlooked. 
I remember how hot it was in the glades, how 
pleasant was the coolness in the shade, and I remem- 
ber the pungent scent of the nut-leaves and how 
the maids who were with us cracked and ate the 
nuts, and how we ourselves unceasingly chewed 
the fresh, full, white kernels. 

We filled our pockets and skirts and the cabriolet, 
and grandmother took us in and praised us. How 
we returned home and what followed I do not at 
all remember. I only remember that grandmamma, 
the nut-glade, the pungent scent of the leaves of 
the nut-trees, the footmen, the yellow cabriolet, 
and the sun, all merged into one joyful impression. 
It seemed to me that as the soap-bubbles could 
only exist with grandmamma, so the thicket, the 
nuts, the sun, and the other things, could only be 
where grandmamma was, in the yellow cabriolet 
drawn by Petrushka and Matyusha. 



RECOLLECTIONS' 9 

But the strongest recollection I have of my 
grandmother is of a night passed in her bedroom 
with Lev Stepanich. He was a blind story-teller 
(already an old man when I knew him) a relic 
of the old-time bdrstvo 1 of my grandfather. He was 
a serf who had been bought simply that he might 
tell stories which, with the remarkable memory 
characteristic of the blind, he could repeat word 
for word after having had them read to him once 
or twice. 

He lived somewhere in the house and was not 
seen all day. But in the evening he would come 
upstairs to grandmamma's bedroom (her bedroom 
was a low, little room which one had to enter by 
two steps) and sit down on a low window-sill where 
supper was brought him from the master's table. 
There he would await my grandmother, who had 
no need to hesitate about undressing in the presence 
of a blind man. On that day, when it was my turn 
to spend the night with grandmamma, the blind 
Lev Stepanich, in a long, dark-blue coat with puffs 
at the shoulders, was already sitting on the window- 
sill eating his supper. I do not remember where 
my grandmother undressed, whether in that room 
or another, or how they put me to bed. I only 
remember the moment when the candle was ex- 
tinguished and just a small lamp remained burning 
before the gilt icons. Grandmamma, that same 
wonderful grandmamma who produced those 
extraordinary soap-bubbles, all white in white, on 
white, and covered with white a white night-cap 
on her head, lay raised high on pillows, and from 
the window-sill came the even, tranquil voice of 

1 Bdrstvo, though a characteristic and almost indispensable 
word in dealing with the old order of things in Russia, is 
difficult to translate. It is something like 'seigniorality', 
'grandeur', or 'lordliness*. A. M. 



io 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

Lev Stepanich: 'Do you wish me to continue?' 
'Yes, continue.' 'Dear sister, said she ' Lev 
Stepanich's quiet, smooth, elderly voice went on, 
'tell us one of those interesting stories which you 
can tell so well. Willingly, replied Sheherazade, 
I will tell the remarkable story of Prince Camaral- 
zaman, if your ruler will express his consent to 
that. Having received the Sultan's consent, 
Sheherazade began as follows: A certain ruling 
King had an only son' . . . and Lev Stepanich 
began the story of Camaralzaman, evidently word 
for word as it was in the book. I neither listened nor 
understood, so absorbed was I by the mysterious 
appearance of my white grandmother, her waver- 
ing shadow on the wall, and the old man with his 
white, sightless eyes, whom I did not now see but 
whom I remembered sitting on the window-sill, 
slowly uttering some strange, and as it seemed to 
me solemn, words, which sounded monotonous in 
the dim room, lit only by the flickering light of 
the little lamp. Probably I fell asleep at once, for 
I remember nothing more, but in the morning was 
again surprised and delighted by the soap-bubbles 
grandmamma made on her hands while washing. 

Of his maternal grandfather Tolstoy tells us : 

Of my grandfather I know that having attained 
the high position of General en Chef, he lost it sud- 
denly by refusing to marry Potemkin's niece and 
mistress, Varvara Engelhardt. To Potemkin's sug- 
gestion that he should do so, he replied: 'What 
makes him think I would marry his strumpet?' 

Having married a Princess Catherine Dmf- 
trievna Trubetskoy he settled on the estate of 
Yasnaya Polyana inherited from her father, Sergey 
Fedorovich. 

The Princess soon died, leaving my grandfather 



'RECOLLECTIONS' n 

an only daughter, Marya. With that much-loved 
daughter and her French girl-companion rny 
grandfather lived till his death, about the year 
1821. He was regarded as a very exacting master 
but I never heard any instance of his being cruel 
or inflicting the severe punishments common in 
those days. I believe such things did happen on 
his estate, but the enthusiastic respect for his im- 
portance and cleverness was so great among the 
household and agricultural serfs whom I have often 
questioned about him, that though I have heard 
my father condemned, I have heard only praise of 
my grandfather's intelligence, capacity for manage- 
ment, and interest both in the affairs of the serfs 
on the land and more particularly of those of his 
great number of domestic serfs. He built admirable 
accommodation for the latter and was careful to 
see that they always had enough to eat and were 
well clothed and had recreation. On holidays he 
arranged amusements for them swings and village 
dances. 

Like all wise landowners of that day he was 
extremely concerned as to the well-being of his 
agricultural serfs, who flourished the more because 
grandfather's high rank inspired respect among the 
local police and enabled the serfs to escape the 
exactions of the authorities. 

He probably had an acute appreciation of 
beauty, for all his buildings were not only well 
built and convenient but exceedingly elegant. So, 
too, was the park he laid out in front of the house. 
Probably he was also very fond of music, for he 
kept a good though small orchestra of his own, 
merely for himself and my mother. I remember 
an immense elm which stood where the lime avenues 
converged. Round its trunk which was so large 
that it took three men to span it were placed 



1 2 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

benches and stands for the musicians. Of a morn- 
ing my grandfather would walk in the avenue and 
listen to the music. He could not endure hunting, 
but was fond of flowers and the plants in his 
greenhouses. 

A strange fate brought him again in touch with 
that same Varvdra Engelhardt for refusing to 
marry whom his army career had suffered. She 
had married Prince Serge* y Fedorovich Golftsin, 
who in consequence had received all sorts of 
dignities, Orders, and rewards. My grandfather 
came so closely in touch with Sergey Fedorovich 
and his family, and consequently with Varvara 
also, that my mother in childhood was engaged 
to one of Golf tsin's ten sons, and the two old princes 
exchanged family portraits (that is, copies painted 
of course by their own serfs). All those portraits 
of the Golitsins are now in our house, including 
Sergey Fedorovich wearing the ribbon of the Order 
of Saint Andrew, and the stout, red-haired Varvara 
Vasllevna as a Lady of the Order of Knighthood. 
My mother's engagement was, however, not destined 
to be fulfilled, for her fiance* died of high fever 
before the marriage. 

My mother I do not at all remember. I was a 
year-and-a-half old when she died, and by some 
strange chance no portrait of her has been pre- 
served, so that as an actual physical being I cannot 
picture her to myself. In a way I am glad of this, 
for my conception of her is thus purely spiritual 
and all I know about her is beautiful. I think this 
has come about not merely because all who told 
me of her tried to say only what was good, but 
because that good was actually in her. 

My mother was not beautiful, but was very well 
educated for her time. Besides Russian (which, 



RECOLLECTIONS' 13 

contrary to the prevailing custom, she wrote cor- 
rectly) she knew four languages: French, German, 
English, and Italian, and she must have had a fine 
feeling for art. She played the piano well, and 
women of her own age have told me that she was 
very clever at telling interesting stories, inventing 
them as she went along. But her most precious 
quality, according to her servants, was that, though 
quick tempered, she was self-restrained. 'She would 
go quite red in the face and even begin to cry,' her 
maid told me, 'but would never say a rude word 
she did not even know any.' 

I have some letters of hers to my father and 
aunts, and her diary of my eldest brother Niko- 
lenka's behaviour. He was six years old when she 
died and was, I think, more like her than the rest 
of us. They both had a characteristic very dear to 
me at least from her letters I assume my mother 
had it, and I knew it in my brother. This was 
an indifference to what others thought about 
them, and a modesty which went to the length of 
trying to hide their mental, educational, and moral 
superiority. They seemed to be almost ashamed of 
those superiorities. 

In my brother of whom Turgenev very truly 
said that he lacked the defects necessary to become 
a great writer I knew that last trait very well. 

I remember how a very stupid and bad man, 
an adjutant to the Governor, who was hunting 
with my brother, ridiculed him in my presence, 
and how my brother, glancing at me, smiled good- 
humouredly, evidently finding pleasure in it. 

I notice the same trait in my mother's letters. 
She was evidently morally superior to my father 
and his family, except perhaps Tatiana Alexan- 
drovna firgolski, with whom I lived half my life and 
who was a woman of remarkable moral qualities. 



14 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

Besides that they both had another trait which 
I think accounts for their indifference to people's 
disapproval. It was that they never blamed any- 
one. I knew that certainly of my brother, with 
whom I spent half my life. His most pronouncedly 
negative relation to any man was expressed by 
a delicate, good-natured humour and a similar 
smile. I notice the same in my mother's letters 
and have heard it spoken of by those who knew her. 

A third trait which distinguished my mother 
from others of her circle was the sincerity and 
simplicity of her letters. In those days exaggerated 
expressions were exceedingly common. 'Incom- 
parable', 'adored', 'joy of my life', 'inestimable', 
and the like, were very customary epithets among 
intimates, and the more high-flown they were the 
less were they sincere. 

That trait showed itself also in my father's letters, 
though not in any marked degree. He writes : ' Ma 
bien douce amie, je ne pense qu'au bonheur d'etre auprcs 
de toi.' 1 That was hardly quite sincere. But her 
mode of address was always the same: 'Mon ban 
ami,' 2 and in one of her letters she says plainly: 
'Le ttmps me par ait long sans toi, quoiqu'd dire vrai, nous 
ne jouissons pas beaucoup de la societe quand tu es id,' 3 
and she always signed herself in the same way: 
'Tfl devouee Marie?* 

My mother passed her childhood partly in 
Moscow and partly in the country with that very 
able, proud, and gifted man, my grandfather 
Volk6nski. I have been told that she was very 
fond of me, and called me: 'mon petit Benjamin 9 . 

1 My very sweet friend, I think only of the happiness of 
being with you. 

2 My good friend. 

3 The time seems long without you, though to tell the truth 
we do not enjoy much of your company when you are here. 

4 Your devoted Marie. 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 1 5 

I think that her love for her deceased betrothed, 
just because the engagement ended in his death, 
was that poetic love which girls experience only 
once. Her marriage with my father was arranged 
by her relatives and his. She was wealthy, no 
longer in her first youth, and an orphan, and my 
father was a gay, brilliant young man of good 
family and connexions, but whose fortune had been 
utterly ruined by his father Ilya Tolstoy ruined 
to such a degree that my father refused even to take 
over the inheritance. I think that my mother was 
not in love with my father, but loved him as a 
husband and chiefly as the father of her children. 
Her real loves, as I understand it, were three or four : 
the love of her deceased fiance; then a passionate 
friendship for her French companion Mademoiselle 
Henissienne, of which I heard from my aunts, and 
which, it seems, ended in disillusion. Mademoiselle 
Henissienne married my mother's cousin, Prince 
Michael Alexandrovich Volkonski, grandfather of 
the present Volkonski, the writer. 

Her third and perhaps most passionate love was 
for my eldest brother Koko [Nicholas], a diary of 
whose conduct she kept in Russian, writing down 
what he did and reading it to him. That diary 
portrays her passionate wish to do everything to 
educate Koko in the best possible way, and at the 
same time how very obscure a perception she had 
of what such an education should be. She reproves 
him, for instance, for being too sensitive, and crying 
over the sufferings of animals when he witnessed 
them. A man, in her view, had to be firm. Another 
defect she tried to correct in him was that he was 
absent-minded and said l je vous remercie' to grand- 
mamma instead of saying 'Bonsoir* or 'Bonjour*. 

My aunts told me, I hope correctly, that a fourth 
strong feeling was her love for me, replacing her 



1 6 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

love for Koko, who from the time of my birth 
became detached from her and was handed over 
into masculine hands. She had to love someone, 
and the one love replaced the other. 

Such was my mother as her portrait exists in my 
imagination. 

She appeared to me a creature so elevated, pure, 
and spiritual, that often in the middle period of 
my life when I was struggling with overwhelming 
temptations, I prayed to her spirit, begging her 
to aid me, and those prayers always helped me 
a great deal. 

Altogether I conclude from letters and reports 
that my mother's life in my father's family was 
a very good and happy one. 

That family consisted of his mother, her daugh- 
ters, one of whom was Countess Alexandra 111 nishna 
Osten-Saken, and her ward Pashenka; another 
'aunt' as we called her, though she was really a 
much more distant relation, Tatiana Alexandrovna 
rgolski, who had been brought up in my grand- 
father's house and lived the remainder of her life 
with us, my father, and our tutor Fedor Ivanovich 
Ressel, who is described correctly enough in Child- 
hood. There were five of us children: Nicholas, 
Sergey, Dmitri, myself, and my sister Mashenka 
(Marya), in consequence of whose birth my mother 
died. My mother's short married life hardly more 
than nine years was a good and happy one. It 
was a very full one and adorned by her love of all 
who lived with her and by everyone's love of her. 
Judging by her letters, she lived at that time in 
great isolation. Hardly anyone except our close 
acquaintances, the Ogarevs, and relatives casually 
travelling along the high road and who turned 
aside to visit us, ever came to Yasnaya Polyana. 
My mother's life was spent in care for her chil- 



RECOLLECTIONS' 17 

dren, in managing the household, in walks, reading 
novels aloud to my grandmother in the evening, 
in serious reading such as Rousseau's mile, and 
in discussing what had been read, in playing the 
piano, and in teaching Italian to one of my aunts. 
In all families there are periods when they all 
live peacefully and sickness and death are as yet 
absent. Such a period, I think, was experienced by 
my family till my mother 's death. No one died, 
no one was seriously ill, and my father's disorgan- 
ized affairs improved. Everyone was well, cheerful, 
and friendly. My father amused us all by his stories 
and jests. I do not remember that time. By the 
time my recollections begin my mother's death had 
already put its seal on the life of our family. 

I have described all this from hearsay and letters. 
Now I will tell of what I myself experienced and 
remember. I will not mention confused, infantile, 
obscure recollections in which I cannot distinguish 
reality from dreams, but will begin with what I 
clearly remember the place and the people that 
surrounded me from my first years. The first place 
among those people is naturally occupied by my 
father not by his influence on me, but by my 
feeling for him. 

In his early years he had been left an only son. 
His younger brother Ilenka, who had injured his 
spine, became hunchbacked, and died in child- 
hood. In 1812* my father was seventeen years old, 
and in spite of his parents' remonstrances, fears, and 
horror, entered the military service. At that time 
Prince Alexe*y Ivanovich Gorchakov, a near rela- 
tion of my grandmother's (who was by birth a 
Princess Gorchak6v) was Minister of War. His 
brother, Andrew Ivanovich, was a general com- 
1 When Napoleon invaded Russia. A. M. 



1 8 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

manding part of the active army, and my father 
was appointed adjutant to him. He served through 
the campaign of 1813-14, and in 1814, being 
sent somewhere in France with dispatches, was 
taken prisoner by the French and only liberated 
when our army entered Paris. 

At the age of twenty my father was no longer an 
innocent youngster, for at the age of sixteen, before 
he entered the army, his parents had arranged a 
liaison between him and a serf-girl such con- 
nexions being then considered desirable for the 
health of young men. That union resulted in the 
birth of a son, Mishenka, who became a postilion 
and who, while my father was alive, lived steadily, 
but afterwards went to pieces and often when we 
brothers were grown up used to come to us begging 
for help. I remember the strange feeling of per- 
plexity I experienced when this brother of mine, 
who was very much like my father (more so than 
any of us) , having fallen into destitution, was grateful 
for the ten or fifteen rubles we would give him. 

After the war was over my father, disenchanted 
with army service as is apparent from his letters 
left it and returned to Kazan, where my grandfather 
(already completely ruined) was Governor, and 
where my father's sister, Pelageya Ilinishna, who 
was married to Yushkov, also lived. My grand- 
father died in Kazan soon after this, leaving on my 
father's hands an estate encumbered with debts 
which exceeded its value, and an old mother 
accustomed to luxury, as well as a sister and another 
relative. His marriage with my mother was arranged 
at that time, and he moved to Yasnaya Poly an a, 
where after nine years he became a widower. 

Returning to what I knew of my father and how 
I picture his life to myself: he was of medium 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 19 

height, well built, an active, sanguine man with a 
pleasant face, but with eyes that were always sad. 
His occupations were farming and lawsuits, chiefly 
the latter. Everybody at that time had many 
lawsuits, but my father, I think, had particularly 
many, as he had to disentangle my grandfather's 
affairs. These lawsuits frequently obliged him to 
leave home, and besides that he used often to go 
off hunting and shooting. His chief companions 
when hunting were his friends, a rich old bachelor 
Kireevsky, Yazykov, Glebov, and Islenev. My 
father shared a characteristic common among 
landed proprietors of having certain favourites 
among his household serfs. His chief favourites 
were two brothers, Petriishka and Matyusha, both 
handsome, dexterous fellows and clever huntsmen. 
When at home my father read a good deal, besides 
occupying himself with farming and with his 
children. He collected a library consisting of the 
French classics of that period, historical works, and 
works on natural history Buffon and Cuvier. My 
aunt told me that my father made it a rule not to 
buy new books until he had read the old ones, but 
though he read a great deal it is difficult to believe 
that he got through all those Histoires des Croisades 
and des Papcs which he acquired for his library. 

As far as I can judge he was not fond of science, 
but was on the ordinary educational level of people 
of his day. Like most of the men of Alexander I's 
early years and of the campaigns of 1813, 1814, and 
1815, he was not what is now called a Liberal, but 
simply from a feeling of self-respect did not con- 
sider it possible to serve either during Alexander's 
later reactionary period or under Nicholas I. And 
not only he but all his friends similarly held them- 
selves aloof from government service and were 
rather Frondeurs in regard to Nicholas I's rule. 



20 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

Throughout my childhood and even my youth 
our family were neither acquainted with nor had 
close intercourse with a single official. Of course 
I did not understand the significance of this in 
my childhood. All I then understood was that my 
father never humbled himself before anyone and 
never changed his debonair, gay, and often ironical 
tone. And this sense of personal dignity which I 
noticed in him increased my love for and my 
delight in him. 

I remember him in his study when we went to 
say 'good night', or sometimes simply to play. 
There he sat on the leather divan smoking a pipe 
and petted us, and sometimes to our intense joy 
let us climb onto the back of the divan while he 
continued to read or talked to the clerk standing 
at the door, or to S. I. Yazykov, my godfather, who 
often stayed with us. I remember how he came 
downstairs and drew pictures for us which seemed 
to us the height of perfection. I remember, too, 
how he once made me read him Pushkin's poems, 
which had pleased me and which I had learnt by 
heart: 'To the Sea', 'Farewell, free element!', and 
'To Napoleon' 

The wondrous fate has been fulfilled, 
The great man is no more. 

and so on. He was evidently struck by the pathos 
with which I spoke those verses, and having 
listened to me, exchanged significant looks with 
Yazykov, who was present. I understood that he 
saw something good in that reading of mine and 
I was very happy about it. 

I remember his merry jests and stories at dinner 
and supper, and how grandmamma and my aunts 
and we children laughed, listening to him. I also 
remember his journeys to town, and how wonder- 



'RECOLLECTIONS' a i 

fully handsome he looked when he wore his trock- 
coat and narrow trousers. But my most vivid 
recollections of him are in connexion with hunting 
and dogs. I remember his setting off for the hunt 
... I remember our going to walk with him and 
how the young borzois following him grew excited 
as the high grass whipped them and tickled their 
stomachs, and how they flew around with their 
tails bent over their backs, and how he admired 
them. I remember how on September ist, the 
hunting holiday, we all set out in a hneyka 1 to a 
wood where a fox had been brought, and how 
the hounds chased it and how it was caught some- 
where though we did not see it by the borzois. 
I also remember with particular clearness the 
taking of a wolf quite near home, and how we all 
went out on foot to see it. The big grey wolf was 
brought in a cart, trussed up and with his legs 
bound. He lay there quietly but glancing askance 
at those who approached him. Having reached a 
place behind the garden, they took the wolf out 
of the cart and held him down to the ground with 
pitchforks while they unbound his legs. He began 
to struggle and jerk and gnaw angrily at the cord. 
At last they loosed the cord from behind and 
someone shouted: 'Let him go!' The pitchforks 
were lifted and the wolf got up. He stood still for 
some ten seconds, but they shouted at him and 
let loose the dogs; and wolf, dogs, horsemen, and 
hunters flew downhill across the field. And the 
wolf got away. I remember my father scolding 
and gesticulating angrily when he returned home. 2 

1 A four-wheeled vehicle rather like an Irish jaunting car, 
but longer, and seating more people. A. M. 

2 Here evidently is part of the material from which the 
famous hunting scenes in War and Peace (Book VII, Chs. 4 to 
6) were produced. A. M. 



22 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

But I liked my father best when he sat on the 
divan with grandmother and helped her lay out 
her cards for patience. He was always polite and 
affable with everyone, but for grandmother he had 
a special kind of amiable humility. Grandmother, 
with her long chin, and a cap with frills and a bow 
on her head, would sit on the divan and lay out 
the cards, occasionally taking a pinch of snuff from 
her gold snuff-box. 

In an arm-chair beside the divan would sit the 
Tula gunsmith, Petrovna, in her short, cartridge- 
studded jacket. She would be spinning, sometimes 
knocking the clew against the wall which was 
already indented by such knocks. This Petrovna 
was a tradeswoman to whom my grandmother 
had taken a fancy, and she often stayed with us 
and always sat near the divan beside grandmamma. 
My aunts would be sitting in arm-chairs, one of 
them reading aloud. On another arm-chair, where 
she had made a place for herself, would be Milka, 
my father's favourite dog, high-spirited and pie- 
bald, with beautiful black eyes. We would come 
in to say good night and would sometimes stay 
a while. 

[A paragraph beginning on p. 20 of vol. i of the 
Life of Tolstoy and continuing at the top of p. 2 1 
should follow on here.] 

I loved my father very much, but only realized 
how strong that love was when he died. 

[Tolstoy's earliest recollections (of being swaddled 
and bathed) are given on pp. 10 to 13 of the first 
volume of the Life of Tolstoy in this edition, and 
are therefore not repeated here. He goes on to say :] 

After my recollections of being swaddled and 
tubbed I have no others up to the age of four or 
five, or very few of them, and not one of them 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 23 

relates to life out of doors. Up to the age of five 
nature did not exist for me. All that I remember 
happened in bed or in a room. Neither grass, nor 
leaves, nor sky, nor sun existed for me. It cannot 
be that no one gave me flowers and leaves to play 
with, or that I did not see the grass and was not 
sheltered from the sun, but up to the age of five 
or six I have no recollection of what is called 
'nature'. Probably it is necessary to be separate 
from it in order to see it, and I was then part of 
nature. 

It is strange and frightening to realize that from 
my birth and up to the age of three when I was 
being fed at the breast, when I was weaned, when 
I first began to crawl about, to walk, and to speak 
I cannot find a single recollection except those 
two, however much I search my memory. \Vhen 
did I begin to be? When did I begin to live? And 
why is it pleasant to imagine myself as I then was, 
but frightening as it used to be to me and as it 
still is to many people to imagine entering a 
similar condition at death, where there will be no 
recollections expressible in words? Was I not alive 
when I was learning to look, to hear, to under- 
stand, to speak, to take the breast and kiss it, and 
to laugh and delight my mother? I was alive and 
lived blissfully! Did I not then become possessed 
of everything by which I now live? Did I not then 
acquire so much and so rapidly that in all the rest 
of my life I have not acquired a one-hundredth 
part as much? From a five-year-old boy to me is 
only a step, from a new-born babe to a five-year- 
old boy there is an immense distance, from an 
embryo to a new-born babe there is an enormous 
chasm, while between non-existence and an embryo 
there is not merely a chasm but incomprehensi- 
bility. Not only are space and time and cause 



24 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

forms of thought, and the essence of life is beyond 
those forms, but our whole life is a greater and 
greater subjection of ourselves to those forms and 
then again a liberation from them. 

[After this should follow the paragraph on p. 1 1 
of vol. i of the Life of Tolstoy beginning with the 
words: 'My next recollections belong to the time 
when I was five or six 5 , and continuing to 'a 
serious matter' at the end of the quotation on 
p. 13. Tolstoy goes on to tell us that:] 

The third person after my father and mother 
who had the most important influence on my life 
was * Auntie', as we called Tatiana Alexandrovna 
firgolski. She was a very distant relation of my 
grandmother's on the Gorchakov side. She and 
her sister Lisa, who afterwards married Count 
Peter Ivanovich Tolst6y, were left as poor unpro- 
tected little orphans when their parents died. They 
had some brothers whom relations managed some- 
how to place. But the imperious and important 
Tatiana Semenovna Skuratov, famous in her circle 
in the Chern district, and my grandmother, decided 
to take the girls to educate. They put folded pieces 
of paper bearing their names before an icon, 
prayed, and drew lots. Lisa fell to Tatiana 
Semenovna and the dark one to grandmamma. 
Tanichka, as we called her, was of the same age as 
my father, being born in 1 795. She was educated 
on an exact equality with my aunts and was 
tenderly loved by us all, as could not be otherwise 
with her firm, energetic, and yet self-sacrificing 
character. Her character is well shown by an 
occurrence about which she told us, showing the 
large scar, almost the size of one's palm, left by 
the burn on her forearm. They children were 
reading the story of Mucius Scaevola, and argued 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 25 

that no one of them could do such a thing. 'I will 
do it,' said Tanichka. 'You won't!' said Yazykov, 
my godfather, and characteristically enough heated 
a ruler over the candle till it bent and smoked. 
'There, lay that on your arm!' said he. Tanichka 
stretched out her bare arm (all girls wore short 
sleeves then) and Yazykov pressed the charred 
ruler against it. She frowned but did not withdraw 
her arm, and only groaned when the ruler was 
pulled away, taking the skin with it. When the 
grown-ups saw her wound and asked her how it 
had happened, she said she had done it herself, 
wishing to experience the same thing as Mucius 
Scaevola. 1 

She was like that in everything, determined yet 
self-sacrificing. 

She must have been very attractive with her 
enormous plait of crisp black curly hair, her jet- 
black eyes and vivacious energetic expression. 
V. I. Yushov, Pelageya Itynichna's husband, a 
great lady-killer, when he was already old used to 
say of her (with the feeling lovers exhibit when 
speaking of former objects of their love) 'Toinette, 
oh, elle etait charmante!* 

When I first remember her she was already over 
forty and I never thought of whether she was 
beautiful or not. I simply loved her, loved her 
eyes, her smile, and her dusky broad little hand 
with its energetic cross- vein. 

Probably she loved my father and he loved her, 
but she did not marry him when they were young 
because she thought he had better marry my 
wealthy mother, and she did not marry him subse- 
quently because she did not wish to spoil her pure 

1 Readers will remember the use Tolst6y makes of this 
recollection in Chapter I of Book IV of War and Peace, where 
S6nya shows the scar on her arm. A. M. 



26 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

poetic relations with him and with us. Among her 
papers in a small beaded portfolio lies the following 
note, written in 1836, six years after the death of 
my mother: 

I i6 aout 1836. Nicholas m'a fait aujourcThui une 
Strange proposition celle de Vtpouser de servir de mere 
a ses enfants et de ne jamais tes quitter. J'ai refuse la 
premiere proposition, fai promts de remplir Vautre tout 
que je vivrai.' 1 

So she wrote, but never did she speak of that to 
us or to anyone. After my father's death she ful- 
filled his second request. We had two aunts and 
a grandmother who all had more claim on us than 
Tatiana Alexandrovna, whom we called 'auntie' 
only by habit, for our kinship was so distant that 
I could never remember what it was, but she held 
the first place in our upbringing by right of love 
to us like Buddha in the story of the wounded 
swan and we felt that. 

I had fits of passionately tender love for her. 
I remember how once when I was about five, I 
squeezed in behind her on the divan in the drawing- 
room, and how, caressing me, she touched my 
hand. I caught her hand and began to kiss it and 
to cry from tender love of her. 

She had been educated like the daughter of a 
wealthy family and spoke and wrote French better 
than Russian. She played the piano admirably, 
but had not touched it for some thirty years. She 
resumed playing only when I was grown up and 
was learning to play; and sometimes, when playing 
duets together, she surprised me by the correctness 
and elegance of her execution. 

1 1 6th August 1836. Nicholas has to-day made me a strange 
proposal that I should marry him, to act as mother to his 
children and never leave them. I have refused the first pro- 
posal, but have promised to fulfil the other as long as I live. 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 27 

To her servants she was kind, never spoke to 
them angrily and could not endure the idea of 
beating or whipping; but she considered that the 
serfs were serfs, and behaved to them as a mistress. 
But in spite of that they regarded her as different 
from other people, and everybody loved her. When 
she died and was being borne through the village, 
peasants came out of all the huts and ordered 
requiems for her. 1 Her chief characteristic was 
love, but much as I could wish that it had not 
been so love of one man, my father. Only from 
that centre did her love radiate to everyone. We 
felt that she loved us for his sake. Through him 
she loved everyone, for her whole life was made up 
of love. 

Though she had the greatest right to us by her 
love, our own aunts, especially Pelageya Ilynichna 
when she took us away to Kazan, had a prior legal 
right and Tatiana Alexandrovna submitted to it, 
but her love did not weaken because of it. She 
lived with her sister, Countess E. A. Tolstoy, but 
in spirit she lived with us, and she returned to us 
as soon as possible. That she lived her last years 
(about twenty) with me at Yasnaya Polyana \\as 
a great happiness for me. But how unable we 
were to value our happiness, for true happiness 
is always quiet and unnoticed! I valued it, but 
far from sufficiently. She was fond of keeping 
sweets, figs, gingerbreads, and dates, in various 
jars in her room, giving them me as a special treat. 
I cannot forget, or remember without a cruel pang 
of remorse, that I repeatedly refused her the money 
she wanted for such things and how, with a sad 

1 It was customary to get the priests to say prayers for the 
dead for a certain fee, but it was unusual for peasants to have 
such prayers said for a lady, especially for one who was not 
even the owner of the estate. A. M. 



28 RECOLLECTIONS' 

sigh, she remained silent. It is true that I was myself 
in need of money, but I cannot now remember 
without horror that I refused her. 

When I was already married and she had begun 
to grow feeble, one day when we were in her 
room, having awaited her opportunity, she said 
to us turning away (I saw that she was ready 
to cry) 'Look here, mes chers amis, my room is 
a good one and you will want it. If I die in it,' 
and her voice trembled, 'the recollection will be 
unpleasant for you, so move me somewhere else 
that I may not die here.' Such she always was 
from my earliest childhood, when I did not yet 
understand her. 

I have said that Auntie Tatiana Alexandrovna 
had a great influence on my life. That influence 
consisted first of all in teaching me from childhood 
the spiritual delight of love. She did not teach me 
that by words, but by her whole being she filled 
me with love. 

I saw and felt how she enjoyed loving, and I 
understood the joy of love. That was the first 
thing. And the second was that she taught me the 
charm of an unhurried, tranquil life. 

[Of the half-crazy saints who wandered from one 
holy place to another and were then common in 
Russia, and some of whom used to visit at the 
Tolst6ys' house, he writes:] 

Grisha [who figures in Childhood] was an in- 
vented character. Many of these yurodivy of various 
kinds used to come to our house and I was accus- 
tomed to regard them with profound respect, for 
which I am deeply grateful to those who brought 
me up. If there were some among them who were 
insincere or had periods of weakness and insincerity 
in their lives, the aim of their life, though practi- 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 29 

cally absurd, was so lofty that I am glad I learned 
unconsciously in childhood to understand the 
height of their achievement. They practised what 
Marcus Aurelius speaks of when he says : 'There is 
nothing higher than to endure contempt for a good 
life.' The temptation to win human praise that 
mingles with good actions is so harmful and so 
unavoidable that one must sympathize with efforts 
to avoid praise and even to evoke contempt. Such 
a yurodivy was Marya Gcrasimovna, my sister's god- 
mother, and the semi-idiot Evdokimushka, and 
some others who used to come to our house. 

And we children overheard the prayer not of 
a yurodivy but of a fool, the gardener's assistant 
Akfm, who was praying in the large room between 
the two hothouses that was used in summer, and 
who really amazed and touched me by his prayer, 
in which he spoke to God as to a living person: 
'You are my healer. You are my dispenser,' 1 said 
he with impressive conviction. And then he sang 
a verse about the Day of Judgement and how God 
would separate the just from the unjust and close 
the eyes of sinners with yellow sand. 

Besides my brothers and sister we had with us 
from the time I was five Duncchka Temyashov, 
a girl of my own age, and I must tell who she was 
and how she happened to come among us. One 
of the visitors I remember in childhood was the 
husband of my aunt Yushkov, whose appearance 
with his black moustache, whiskers, and spectacles, 
surprised us children, and another was my godfather 
S. I. Yazykov, smelling of tobacco and remarkably 

1 LJka, a doctor or healer, and aptfka, an apothecary or 
dispenser, are so similar in sound and so akin in suggestion 
that having uttered the one word Akim could automatically 
follow it up with the other. A. M. 



30 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

ugly with loose skin on his large face which he 
constantly twitched into the strangest grimaces. Be- 
sides these and two neighbours, Ogarev and Islenev, 
there was on the Gorchakov side of the family a 
distant relation who came to see us. This was 
the wealthy bachelor Temyash6v, who called my 
father 'brother' and cherished a kind of ecstatic 
liking for him. He lived forty versts from Yasnaya 
Polyana at the village of Pirogova, and brought 
from there on one occasion sucking-pigs with tails 
twisted into rings, which were spread out on a large 
dish in the servants' quarters. Temyash6v, Piro- 
gova, and the sucking-pigs became merged into 
one in my imagination. 

Besides that, Temyashov was memorable for us 
children by the fact that he played on the piano in 
the large living-room a dance-tune (the only one 
he could play) and made us dance to it. When we 
asked him what dance it was, he said that one could 
dance all dances to that tune. And we enjoyed 
availing ourselves of such an opportunity. 

It was a winter's evening, tea had been drunk and 
we were soon to be taken up to bed. I could hardly 
keep my eyes open, when suddenly from the ser- 
vants' quarters, through the large open door into 
the drawing-room where we were all sitting in 
semi-darkness with only two candles burning, a 
man in soft boots entered with rapid strides and 
reaching the middle of the room fell on his knees. 
The lighted pipe he held in his hand struck the 
floor with its long stem and sparks flew about, 
lighting up the face of the kneeling man. It was 
Temyash6v. He said something to my father be- 
fore whom he was kneeling. I do not remember 
what, and did not even hear. I only knew later 
that he had fallen on his knees before my father 
because he had brought his illegitimate daughter, 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 3 1 

Diinechka, about whom he had previously spoken 
to my father, asking him to take her to be educated 
with his own children. From that time there ap- 
peared among us a broad-faced little girl of my 
own age, Diinechka, with her nurse Evpraxia, a 
tall wrinkled old woman with a pendulous jowl 
like a turkey-cock's in which was a ball she allowed 
us to feel. 

The appearance in our house of Dunechka was 
connected with a complicated transaction between 
my father and Temyashov. 

Temyashov was very wealthy. He had no 
legitimate children, but there were two girls, 
Dunechka and Verochka, a hunchbacked girl 
whose mother Marfusha had been a serf-girl. 
Temyashov's heirs were his two sisters. He was 
leaving them all his other properties, but wished 
to transfer Pirog6va, where he lived, to my father, 
on condition that my father should hand over the 
value of the estate, 300,000 rubles (it was always 
said that Pirogova was a gold-mine and worth 
much more than that), to the two girls. To arrange 
this the following plan was devised: Temyashov 
drew up a bill of sale by which he sold Pirog6va 
to my father for 300,000 rubles, and my father 
gave notes-of-hand for 100,000 rubles each to three 
other people Isle*nev, Yazykov, and Glebov. In 
the event of Temyashov's death my father was to 
receive the estate and (it having been explained 
to Glebov, Isle*nev, and Yazykov with what object 
the notes-of-hand had been made out in their 
names) he was to pay the 300,000 rubles which 
were to go to the two girls. 

Perhaps I may not have stated the whole plan 
correctly, but I know for certain that the estate of 
Pirog6va passed to us after my father's death and 
that there were three notes-of-hand in Isl&iev's, 



32 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

Glebov's, and Yazykov's names, and that our 
guardian redeemed these notes-of-hand and the two 
first-named each gave 100,000 rubles to the girls. 
But Yazykov appropriated the money which did 
not belong to him. 

Dunechka lived with us and was a dear, simple, 
quiet girl, but not clever, and a great cry-baby. I 
remember that I, who had already been taught 
to read French, was set to teach her the letters. At 
first matters went well (she and I were both five 
years old) but afterwards she probably grew tired 
and no longer named correctly the letter I pointed 
to. I insisted. She began to cry and so did I. And 
when they came for us, our desperate tears pre- 
vented our uttering a word. 

Another thing I remember about her is that 
when it appeared that one plum had been stolen 
from the plate and the culprit could not be dis- 
covered, Fedor Ivanovich with a serious mien, not 
looking at us, said that it did not matter having 
eaten it, but if the stone had been swallowed one 
might die of it. Dunechka could not endure that 
terror and exclaimed that she had spat out the 
stone. I also remember her desperate tears when 
she and my brother Mitenka (Dmitri) had started 
a game of spitting a little brass chain into one 
another's mouths, and she spat it out so forcibly 
and Mitenka had opened his mouth so wide, that 
he swallowed the chain. She wept inconsolably 
till the doctor came and tranquillized us all. 

She was not clever, but was a good simple- 
minded girl, and above all was so chaste that 
between us boys and her there were never any but 
brotherly relations. 

[Of the servants Tolstoy tells us:] 

Prask6vya Isaevna I have described fairly 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 33 

accurately in Childhood under the name of Natalya 
Savishna. All that I wrote about her was taken 
from life. Praskovya Isaevna was a respected 
person, the housekeeper, yet our, the children's, 
little trunk stood in her little room. One of the 
pleasantest impressions I have is of sitting in her 
little room and talking or listening to her after 
our lesson, or even in the middle of lesson-time. 
Probably she liked to see us at that time of parti- 
cularly happy and tender expansiveness. 4 Pras- 
k6vya Isaevna, how did grandpapa make war? 
On horseback?' one would ask her with a grunt, 
just to start her off on a conversation. 

'He fought in every way, on horse and on foot. 
That 's why he became a General en chefS she would 
reply, and opening a cupboard would get out some 
resin which she called 'Ochakov fumigation'. It 
seemed from what she said that grandfather had 
brought it back from the siege of Ochakov. She 
would light a bit of paper at the little lamp burning 
before the icon, and light the resin, which would 
smoke with a pleasant aroma. 

Besides an indignity she inflicted on me by 
beating me with a wet napkin (as I have described 
in Childhood) she also offended me on another 
occasion. Among her duties was that of administer- 
ing enemas to us when necessary. One morning, 
after I had already ceased to live in the women's 
quarters and had been moved downstairs to 
Theodore Ivanovich's, we had just got up and my 
elder brothers had already dressed. I however had 
been slow and was only just taking off my dressing- 
gown preparatory to putting on my clothes, when 
Prask6vya Isaevna, with an old woman's quick 
steps, entered with her instruments. They con- 
sisted of a tube wrapped for some reason in a napkin 
so that only the yellow horn nozzle was visible, and 

439 O 



34 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

a small dish of olive oil in which the horn nozzle 
was dipped. Seeing me, Praskovya Isaevna decided 
that I must be the one Auntie intended the opera- 
tion to be performed on. Really it was Mitenka 
who, either by accident or guile, knowing that he 
was threatened with an operation which we all 
greatly disliked, had dressed quickly and left the 
bedroom. And despite my sworn assurance that 
the operation was not ordered for me, Praskovya 
Isaevna administered it to me. 

Besides loving her for her faithfulness and honesty 
I loved her even more because she and old Anna 
Ivanovna seemed to me to be representatives of the 
mysterious side of grandfather's life connected with 
the 'Ochakov fumigation'. 

Anna Ivanovna was no longer in service but I 
saw her once or twice at our house. They said 
she was a hundred years old, and she remembered 
Pugachev. She had very black eyes and one tooth, 
and her extreme age was frightening to us children. 

Nurse Tatiana Filfppovna, a small dusky young 
woman with small plump hands, assisted old nurse 
Annushka. I hardly remember Annushka herself, 
simply because I was not conscious of myself except 
with her, and as I did not observe or remember 
myself so I did not observe and do not remember her. 

But I remember the new arrival, Dunechka's 
nurse Evpraxia with the ball in her neck, extremely 
well. I remember how we took turns to feel that 
ball, and how I understood, as something new, 
that Nurse Annushka did not belong to everybody 
but that Dunechka had a quite special nurse of her 
own from Pirogova. 

I remember Nurse Tatiana Filippovna because 
later on she was nurse to my nieces and my eldest 
son. She was one of those touching creatures from 
among the people who become so attached to their 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 35 

foster-children that all their interests become 
centred on them, and their own relations have 
nothing but the possibility of wheedling out of them, 
or inheriting, the money they earn. 

Such people always seem to have spendthrift 
brothers, husbands, and sons. And Tatiana Filip- 
povna, as far as I remember, had such a husband 
and son. I remember her dying, quietly and 
meekly though painfully, in our house on the very 
spot on which I am now sitting and writing these 
recollections. 

Her brother Nicholas Filippovich was our coach- 
man, whom we not only loved, but for whom like 
the majority of landowners' children we nursed 
a great respect. He had particularly thick boots 
and there was always a pleasant smell of the stables 
about him and his voice was deep-toned and 
affable 

Vasili Trubetskoy, our butler, must be men- 
tioned. He was an affable and kindly man who 
was evidently fond of children, particularly of 
Sergey in whose service he afterwards lived and 
died. I remember how he sat us on a tray (that 
was one of our great delights 'Me too ! My turn !') 
and carried us up and down the pantry, which 
seemed to us a mysterious place with its entrance 
from the basement. I remember his kindly crooked 
smile and how closely one saw his shaven wrinkled 
face and neck when he took us up in his arms. 
There was also a particular smell I connect with 
him. Another vivid recollection relates to his 
departure for Shcherbachcvka, an estate in Kursk 
province that my father received as an inheritance 
from Petrovsky. Vasfli Trubetsk6y's departure 
took place during the Christmas holidays when we 
children and some of the household serfs were 
playing 'Go, little ruble! 5 in the big room. 



36 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

Something should also be told of those Christmas 
amusements. All the household serfs there were 
perhaps thirty of them came into the house in 
fancy dress, played various games, and danced 
to the music of old Gregory who appeared in the 
house only at such times. This was very amusing. 
The costumes were generally the same from year 
to year: a bear with a leader, and a goat, Turks 
and Turkish women, robbers, and peasant men 
and women. I remember how handsome some of 
those in costume seemed to me, particularly Masha 
the Turk-girl. Sometimes Auntie dressed us up, 
too. A certain belt with stones was specially 
coveted and a piece of net embroidered with silver 
and gold, and I thought myself very handsome 
with a burnt-cork moustache. I remember looking 
at myself in the glass with a black moustache and 
eyebrows, and how though I ought to have assumed 
the face of a majestic Turk I could not restrain a 
smile of pleasure. The mummers walked through 
all the rooms and were treated to various dainties. 

At one of the Christmas holidays of my early 
childhood the Islenevs all came to us in fancy 
dress: the father (my wife's grandfather), his three 
sons, and three daughters. They all wore wonderful 
costumes. One represented a dressing-table, an- 
other a boot, another a cardboard buffoon, and 
a fourth something else. Having come thirty miles 
and dressed themselves up in the village, they 
entered our big room, and Islenev sat down to 
the piano and sang verses of his own composition 
in a voice I still remember. 

The lines were: 

To salute you at the New Year 
We have come here for a spree. 
If we can at all amuse you 
We ourselves shall happy be. 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 37 

All this was very surprising and probably pleased 
the grown-ups, but we children were best pleased 
by the house serfs. 

These festivities occurred between Christmas and 
New Year, sometimes lasting even up to Twelfth 
Night. But after New Year few people came and 
the amusements flagged. So it was on the day that 
Vasili started for Shcherbachevka. I remember 
that we were sitting in a circle in a corner of the 
large, dimly lighted room on home-made imitation- 
mahogany chairs with leather cushions, and were 
playing 'Little Ruble'. The ruble was passed from 
hand to hand while we sang: 'Go, little ruble! Go, 
little ruble!' and one of us went round and had to 
find it. I remember that one of the domestic serf- 
girls sang those words over and over again in a 
particularly pleasant and true voice. Suddenly the 
pantry door opened and Vasili, unusually buttoned 
up and without his tray and dishes, passed along 
the side of the room into the study. Only then did 
I learn that he was going away to be steward at 
Shcherbachevka. I understood that this was a 
promotion for him and I was glad for his sake. At 
the same time I was sorry to part from him and 
to know that he would not be in the pantry again 
and would no longer carry us on his tray. Indeed, 
I could not even understand, and did not believe, 
that such a change could take place. I became 
terribly and mysteriously sad, and the refrain : 'Go, 
little ruble !' seemed tenderly touching. And when 
Vasili returned from saying good-bye to our aunts, 
and came up to us with his kindly crooked smile, 
kissing us on the shoulder, I for the first time 
experienced horror and fear at the instability of 
life, and pity and love for dear Vasili. 

When later on I met Vasili, and saw him as my 
brother's good or bad steward who was under 



38 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

suspicion, there was no longer any trace of that 

former sacred, brotherly, human feeling. 

[The next passage to this in the Recollections re- 
lates to Nicholas, Tolst6y's eldest brother, and to the 
'Ant-brothers' and the Fanfaronov Hill. It is given 
in full on pp. 1 7 to 19 of vol. i of the Life of Tolstoy.] 

[Of his other brothers Tolstoy tells us :] 
Dmitri was my comrade, Nicholas I respected, 
but I was enraptured by Sergey, imitated him, loved 
him, and wished I were he. I was enraptured by his 
handsome exterior, his voice (he was always singing) , 
his drawing, his gaiety, and in particular (strange as 
it seems to say so), the spontaneity of his egotism. I 
was always conscious of myself, always felt, mistaken- 
ly or not, what other people thought and felt about 
me, and this spoilt the joy of life for me. That is 
probably why I particularly liked the opposite in 
others a spontaneous egotism. And for that in par- 
ticular I loved Sergey though the word 'loved' is 
incorrect. I loved Nicholas, but I was enraptured by 
Sergey as by something quite different from and in- 
comprehensible to me. His was a human life, very 
beautiful but quite incomprehensible to me, mys- 
terious and on that account particularly attractive. 
He died just the other day, 1 and in his last illness 
and on his death-bed he was as inscrutable to me 
and as dear as in the far-off days of childhood. 
Latterly, in his old age, he loved me more, valued 
my attachment to him, was proud of me, and 
wished to agree with me, but could not. He re- 
mained what he had always been: himself, quite 
singular, handsome, thoroughbred, proud, and 
above all such a truthful and sincere man as I have 
never met elsewhere. He was what he was, hid 
nothing, and did not wish to appear anything else. 
1 In August 1904. A. M. 



'RECOLLECTIONS 1 39 

With Nicholas I wished to be, to talk, and to 
think. Sergey I simply wished to imitate. That 
imitation began in early childhood. He started 
keeping hens and chickens of his own, and I did 
the same. That was almost my first insight into 
animal life. I remember the different breeds of 
chickens grey, speckled, and crested. I remember 
how they ran to our call, how we fed them, and 
how we hated the big Dutch cock that ill-treated 
them. It was Sergey who asked for the chickens 
and started keeping them. I did the same merely 
to imitate him. Sergey drew and coloured (wonder- 
fully well as it seemed to me) a series of different 
cocks and hens on a long sheet of paper, and I did 
the same, but worse. (I hoped to perfect myself 
in this by means of the Fanfar6nov Hill.) When 
the double windows were put in for the winter* 
Sergey invented a way of feeding his chickens 
through the key-hole by means of long sausages 
of white and black bread and I did the same. 

One insignificant occurrence left a strong im- 
pression on my childish mind. I remember it now 
as if it had just happened. Temyashov was sitting 
in our nursery upstairs and talking to Fedor 
Ivanovich. I do not remember why, but the con- 
versation touched on the observance of fasts, and 
Temyashov good-natured Temyash6v remarked 
quite simply: 'I had a man-cook who took it into 
his head to eat meat during a fast and I sent him 
to serve as a soldier.' I remember it now because 
it then seemed to me strange and unintelligible. 

There was another occurrence the Per6vskoe 
inheritance. 1 There was a memorable file of 
horses and carts with high-piled loads which 

1 The Pcr6vskoe inheritance consisted of two estates: 
Shcherbachevka and Neruch in the Kursk province. 



40 ' RECOLLECTIONS' 

arrived from Neriich when the lawsuit about the 
inheritance had been won thanks to Ilya Mitro- 
fanych, who was a tall old man with white hair, 
a former serf on the Perovskoe estate, a hard 
drinker, and a great adept in all sorts of chicanery, 
such as used to go on in the old days. He managed 
the affair of that inheritance, and on that account 
was allowed to live and was provided for at 
Yasnaya Polyana till his death. 

I also remember the arrival of the famous 
'American' Theodore Tolst6y, an uncle of Valerian, 
my sister's husband. I remember that he drove 
up in a caliche with post-horses, went into my 
father's study, and demanded that they should bring 
him some special dry French bread. He ate no 
other. My brother Sergey had bad toothache at 
the time. Theodore asked what was the matter 
with him, and on hearing what it was said that he 
could stop the pain by magnetism. He went into 
the study, closing the door behind him. A few 
minutes later he came out with two lawn handker- 
chiefs which I remember had borders with a lilac 
design. He gave these to my aunt and said: 
'When this one is applied the pain will pass, and 
with this one he will go to sleep.' She took the 
handkerchiefs, put them on Sergey, and we re- 
tained the impression that everything happened 
as he had said. 

I remember his handsome face, bronzed and 
shaven, with thick white whiskers down to the 
corners of his mouth and similarly white curly hair. 
There is much I should like to tell about that 
extraordinary, criminal, and attractive man. 1 

A third impression was that of the visit of an 

1 He was in part the original of D61okhov in War and Peace, 
though Dav^dov, a guerilla leader in the war of independence, 
furnished some of D61okhov's characteristics. A. M. 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 41 

Hussar, Prince Volkonski, some sort of a cousin of 
my mother's. He wished to caress me and sat me 
on his knee, and as often happens went on talking 
to the grown-ups while holding me. I struggled, 
but he only held me the tighter. This continued 
for a couple of minutes. But that feeling of im- 
prisonment, loss of freedom, and use of force, made 
me so indignant that I suddenly began to struggle 
violently, cry, and hit out at him. 

Two miles from Yasnaya Polyana lies the village 
of Grumond (so named by my grandfather who 
had been Military Governor of Archangel where 
there is an island called Grumond). [At Grumond, 
Tolstoy tells us, there was a very good cattle-yard 
and a small but excellently built house for occa- 
sional use. It was a great treat for the Tolstoy 
children to spend the day at Grumond, where 
there was a spring of excellent water and a pond 
full of fish. He adds:] 

But I remember that on one occasion our delight 
was infringed by an occurrence which made us 
or at least Dmitri and me cry bitterly. Bertha, 
Fedor Ivanovich's dear brown dog, who had 
beautiful eyes and soft curly hair, was as usual 
running now in front and now behind our cabriolet 
as we were returning home, when as we drove 
away from the Grumond garden a peasant dog 
flew at her. She rushed to the cabriolet. Fedor 
Ivanovich, who was driving, could not stop the 
horses and drove over her paw. When we had 
returned home poor Bertha running on three 
legs Fedor Ivanovich and Nikita Dmitrich (our 
male nurse who was also a huntsman) examined 
her and decided that her leg was broken and she 
would never be of any use for hunting. I listened 
to what they were saying in the little room upstairs 



42 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

and could not believe my ears when I heard Fedor 
Ivanovich say, in a sort of swaggering tone of 
decision: 'She's no more good. There's only one 
way to hang her!' 

The dog was suffering, was ill, and was to be 
hung for it ! I felt that it was wrong and ought not 
to be done, but Fedor Ivanovich's tone and that of 
Nikfta Dmitrich who approved the decision, were 
so decided that, as on the occasion when Kuzma 
was being taken to be flogged, 1 and when Tem- 
yashov related how he had sent a man to be a 
soldier for having eaten meat during a fast, though 
I felt there was something wrong I did not dare 
to trust my feeling in face of the firm decision of 
older people whom I respected. 

I will not recount all my joyful childish memories 
because there would be no end to them and be- 
cause, though to me they are dear and important,, 
I could not make them seem important to others. 

I will only tell of one spiritual condition which 
I experienced several times in my early childhood, 
and which I think was more important than very 
many feelings experienced later. It was important 
because it was my first experience of love, not love 
of some one person, but love of love, the love of 
God, a feeling I subsequently experienced only 
occasionally, but still did experience, thanks it 
seems to me to the fact that its seed was sown in 
earliest childhood. That condition manifested it- 
self in this way : we, especially Dmitri and I and 
the girls, used to seat ourselves under chairs as close 
to one another as possible. These chairs were 
draped with shawls and barricaded with cushions 
and we said we were 'ant brothers', and thereupon 
felt a particular tenderness for one another. Some- 

1 This incident is given in the Life of Tolstdy, vol. i, p. 14. 
A. M. 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 43 

times this tenderness passed into caresses, stroking 
one another or pressing against one another, but 
that seldom happened and we ourselves felt it was 
not the thing, and checked ourselves immediately. 
To be 'ant brothers' as we called it (probably this 
came from some stories of the Moravian Brothers 1 
which reached us through brother Nicholas's Fan- 
faronov Hill) meant only to screen ourselves from 
everybody, separate ourselves from everyone and 
everything, and love one another. 

Sometimes when under the chairs we talked of 
what and whom each of us loved, of what is neces- 
sary for happiness, and how we should live and 
love everybody. 

It began, I remember, from a game of travelling. 
We seated ourselves on chairs, harnessed other 
chairs, arranged a carriage or a cabriolet, and then 
having settled down in the carriage we changed 
from travellers into 'ant brothers'. To them other 
people were joined up. It was very, very good, and 
I thank God that I played it. We called it a game, 
but really everything in the world is a game except 
that. 

[This repeated reference by Tolstoy to the 'ant 
brotherhood' shows how much importance he 
attributed to that game, full as it was of profound 
human meaning.] 

At the beginning of our life in Moscow when my 
father was still alive, we had a pair of very fiery 
horses bred in our own stables. My father's coach- 
man, Mftka Kon^lov, also acted as his groom, and 
was a very clever rider and huntsman besides being 
an excellent coachman and above all an invaluable 
postilion invaluable because a boy could not 
manage such fiery horses, and an old man would 
1 In Russian 'ant' is muravSy. 



44 'RECOLLECTIONS 1 

be heavy and unsuitable, whereas Mf tka united the 
rare qualities a postilion requires: he was small, 
light, and had strength and agility. I remember 
that once when the carriage was brought for my 
father, the horses bolted, dashing through the gate. 
Someone cried out: 'The Count's horses have 
bolted!' Pashenka fainted, and my aunts rushed 
to grandmamma to calm her, but it turned out 
that my father had not yet got into the carriage 
and that Mitka dexterously held the horses in and 
brought them back into the yard. 

After my father's death when our expenses had 
to be cut down, that same Mitka was released to 
work on his own account on payment of a quit- 
rent. Rich merchants competed for his service and 
would have engaged him at a high salary, for Mitka 
already swaggered about in silk shirts and velvet 
coats. But it happened that his brother was chosen 
to go as a soldier, and his father, who was already 
an old man, called Mitka home to do the statutory 
field labour. And within a month our small, smart 
Mitka turned himself into a rough bast-shod 
peasant, fulfilling the corvee and cultivating his 
two allotments of land, mowing, ploughing, and 
in general bearing the heavy burden of those days. 
And he did all this without the least protest, feeling 
conscious that it should be so and could not be 
otherwise. 

[In reply to an inquiry from his German bio- 
grapher Lowenfeld as to how it was that Tolstoy 
with his insatiable thirst for knowledge, left the 
University without taking his degree, Tolstoy said :] 

Yes, that was perhaps the chief cause of my 
leaving the University. What our teachers at 
Kazan lectured on interested me but little. At first 
1 studied Oriental languages for a year, but made 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 45 

very little progress. I devoted myself ardently to 
everything and read an endless quantity of books, 
but always in one and the same direction. When 
any subject interested me I did not turn from it 
either to the right or to the left but tried to acquaint 
myself with all that could throw light on it alone. 
That was how it was with me in Kazan. 

[On another occasion he said:] 

The causes of my leaving the University were 
two: (i) That my brother Sergey had finished the 
course and left. (2) Strangely enough my work on 
Catherine's Nakaz and the Esprit des lois (vshich I 
still have) opened up for me a new sphere of inde- 
pendent mental w r ork, but the University with its 
demands not only did not assist such work but 
hindered it. 

My brother Dmitri was a year older than I. He 
had large dark, serious eyes. I hardly remember 
him \vhen little and only know by hearsay that as 
a child he was very capricious. It was said that 
he had such fits of caprice that he grew angry and 
cried because our nurse did not look at him, and 
then grew angry and cried in the same way because 
she did look at him. I know by hearsay that 
mamma was much troubled about him. He was 
nearest to me in age and we played more together, 
and though I did not love him as much as I loved 
Sergey or as I loved and respected Nicholas, he 
and I were friendly together and I do not remember 
that we quarrelled. We may have done so and may 
even have fought, but the quarrels did not leave 
the least trace and I loved him with a simple, 
equable, natural love which I did not notice and 
do not remember. I think and even know, for I 
have experienced it especially in childhood, that 
the love of others is a natural state of the soul, or 



46 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

rather a natural relation to people, and when that 
state exists one does not notice it. It is noticed only 
when one does not love no, not 'does not love' 
but fears someone (in that way I feared beggars 
and also one of the Volk6nskis who used to pinch 
me, but I think I feared no one else), or when one 
loves someone particularly, as I loved Auntie 
Tatiana Alexandrovna, my brothers Sergey and 
Nicholas, Vasfli, Nurse Isaevna, and Pashenka. 

As a child I remember nothing about Dmitri 
except his childish gaiety. His peculiarities showed 
themselves and impressed themselves on me only 
from the time we lived at Kazan, where we went 
in the year eighteen forty, when he was thirteen. 
Before that I only remember that he did not fall 
in love as Sergey and I did, and in particular did 
not like dances and military pageants, but that 
he studied well and diligently. I remember that 
our teacher, an undergraduate named Popl6nsky 
who gave lessons, summed us up thus : 'Sergey both 
wishes to and can, Dmitri wishes to but can't (that 
was not true) and Leo neither wishes to nor can 5 
(that I think was perfectly correct). 1 

So that my real recollections of Dmitri begin in 
Kazan. There, always imitating Sergey, I began 
to grow depraved. There too, and even earlier, I 
became concerned about my appearance. I tried 
to be elegant and comme il faut. There was not a 
trace of that in Dmitri. I think he never suffered 
from the usual vices of youth. He was always 
serious, thoughtful, pure, and resolute though hot- 
tempered, and whatever he did he did to the ut- 
most of his strength. When he swallowed the little 
chain he was not, as far as I remember, particularly 
uneasy about it, whereas I remember what terror 

1 In another place Tolst6y has told this differently, and 
found a place to include Nicholas. A. M. 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 47 

I experienced when I swallowed the stone of a 
French plum that auntie gave me, and how I 
solemnly announced that calamity to her as if 
certain death awaited me. I also remember how 
we little ones tobogganed down a steep hill past 
a shed: what fun it was, and how some passer-by 
drove up that hill in a troyka instead of going 
along the road. I think it was Sergey and a village 
boy who were coming down and, unable to stop 
the toboggan, fell under the horses' feet. They 
scrambled out unhurt, and the troyka went on up 
the hill. We were all preoccupied with the occur- 
rence how they got out from under the trace- 
horse, how the shaft-horse shied, and so on. But 
Dmitri (then about nine) went up to the man in 
the sledge and began to scold him. I remember how 
surprised I was and how it displeased me when he 
said that for such a thing for daring to drive 
where there was no road he ought to be sent to 
the stable, which in the language of those days 
meant that he ought to be flogged. 

His peculiarities first appeared at Kazan. He 
learnt well and steadily and wrote verses with great 
facility. (I remember how admirably he trans- 
lated Schiller's Der Jungling am Bache) but he did 
not devote himself to that occupation. I remember 
how he once began playing pranks, and how this 
delighted the girls and I felt jealous arid thought 
they were so delighted because he was always 
serious, and I wished to imitate him in that. The 
aunt who was our guardian (Pelageya Ilynishna) 
had the very stupid idea of giving each of us a serf- 
boy who should later on become our devoted body- 
servant. To Dmitri she gave Vanyusha who is still 
living. Dmitri often treated him badly and I think 
even beat him. I say 'I think' because I do not 
remember his doing so but only remember his 



48 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

penitence addressed to Vanyiisha for something 

he had done to him, and his humble appeal for 

forgiveness. 

So he grew up unnoticed, having little intercourse 
with others, and except at moments of anger quiet 
and serious, with pensive, serious, large brown 
eyes. He was tall, rather thin, not very strong, 
with large long hands and round shoulders. He 
was a year younger than Sergey but entered the 
University at the same time, in the Mathematical 
Faculty merely because his elder brother was a 
mathematician. 

I do not know how or by what he was at so early 
an age attracted towards a religious life, but it 
began in the first year of his life at the University. 
His religious aspirations naturally directed him to 
the Church, and he devoted himself to this with his 
usual thoroughness. He began to eat Lenten food, 
went to all the Church services, and became even 
stricter in his life. 

Dmitri must have had that valuable character- 
istic which I believe my mother had and which I 
knew in Nicholas but which I entirely lacked 
namely, complete indifference as to what other 
people thought of him. Until quite lately, in old 
age, I have never been able to divest myself of 
concern about other people's opinion, but Dmitri 
was quite free from this. I never remember seeing 
that restrained smile on his face which involun- 
tarily appears when one is being praised. I always 
remember his large, serious, quiet, sad, almond- 
shaped hazel eyes. Only in our Kazan days did 
we begin to pay particular attention to him and 
then only because, while Sergey and I attributed 
great importance to what was comme il faut to 
externals he was untidy and dirty and we con- 
demned him for that. He did not dance and did 



RECOLLECTIONS' 49 

not wish to learn to, did not as a student go out 
into society, wore only a student's coat with a 
narrow cravat, and from his youth had a twitching 
of the face he twisted his head as if to free himself 
from the narrowness of his cravat. 

His peculiarity first showed itself during his first 
fasting in preparation for communion. He pre- 
pared not at the fashionable University Church 
but at the Prison Church. We were living in 
Gortalov's house opposite the prison. At this 
church there was a particularly pious and strict 
priest who, as something unusual, used during 
Holy Week to read through the whole of the Gospels 
as is prescribed but seldom done, and so the ser- 
vices lasted particularly long. Dmitri stood through 
them all and made acquaintance with the priest. 
The church was so built that the place where 
the prisoners stood was only separated by a glass 
partition with a door in it. Once one of the 
prisoners wished to pass something to the deacons 
either a taper or money for a taper. No one in 
the church wished to undertake that commission, 
but Dmitri with his serious face promptly took it 
and handed it over. It appeared that this was not 
allowed and he received a reprimand, but con- 
sidering that it ought to be done, he continued 
to act in the same way on similar occasions. 

I remember a certain incident after we had 
moved to another lodging . . . our upstairs rooms 
were separated into two parts. In the first part 
lived Dmitri, and in the further part Sergey and I. 
Sergey and I were fond of having ornaments to put 
on our little tables, like grown-up people, and such 
things were given to us as presents. Dmitri had 
nothing of the sort. The only thing he took of our 
father's possessions was a collection of minerals. 



50 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

He arranged them, labelled them, and put them 
in a glass-covered case. As we brothers and our 
aunt regarded Dmitri with some contempt for his 
low tastes and acquaintances, our frivolous friends 
adopted a similar tone. One of them, a very 
limited fellow (an engineer, Es, who was our friend 
not so much by our choice as because he attached 
himself to us), passing through Dmitri's room on 
one occasion, noticed the minerals and put a 
question to Dmitri. Es was unsympathetic and 
unnatural. Dmitri answered him reluctantly. Es 
moved the case and shook it. Dmitri said: 'Leave 
it alone!' Es did not obey and made some jest, 
calling him, if I remember right, 'Noah.' 1 Dmitri 
flew into a rage and hit Es in the face with his 
enormous hand. Es took to flight and Dmitri after 
him. When they reached our domain we shut the 
door on Dmitri, but he announced that he would 
beat Es when the latter went back. Sergey and, 
I think, Shuvalov went to persuade Dmitri to let 
Es pass, but he took up a broom and announced 
that he would certainly give him a thrashing. I 
don't know what would have happened had Es 
gone through his room, but the latter asked us to 
find a way out for him, and we got him out as best 
we could, almost crawling through a dusty attic. 

Such was Dmitri in his moments of anger. But 
this is what he was like when no one drew him out 
of himself. In our family a very strange and pitiful 
creature, a certain Lyubov Sergeevna, an old maid, 
had found a place for herself, or had been taken in 
out of pity. I do not know her surname. She was 
the offspring of the incestuous relations of some 
Protasovs (the Protasovs to whom Zhuk6vski the 
poet belonged). How she came to us I do not 

1 This reference to Noah is explained in Tolst6y's Con- 
fession, p. 3. A. M. 



RECOLLECTIONS' 5 1 

know. I heard that they pitied her, petted her, 
and had even wished to marry her to Fedor 
Ivanovich, but that all came to nothing. She lived 
with us for a while at Yasnaya Polyana (I do not 
remember it) but afterwards she was taken to 
Kazan by my aunt Pelageya Ilynishna and lived 
with her. I came to know her there. She was a 
pitiable, meek, down-trodden creature. They let 
her have a little room, and a girl to look after her. 
When I knew her she was not only pitiable but 
hideous. I do not know what her illness was, but 
her face was swollen as if it had been stung by 
bees. Her eyes were just narrow slits between two 
swollen shiny cushions without eyebrows. Similarly 
swollen, shiny, and yellow were her cheeks, nose, 
lips, and mouth. She spoke with difficulty (having 
probably a similar swelling in her mouth). In 
summer, flies used to settle on her face and she did 
not feel them, which was particularly unpleasant 
to witness. Her hair was still black but scanty, and 
did not hide her scalp. Vasili Ivanovich Yushkov, 
our aunt's husband, who was an ill-natured jester, 
did not conceal the repulsion he felt for her. A 
bad smell always came from her, and in her little 
room, the windows of which were never opened, the 
odour was stifling. And this Lyubov Sergeevna 
became Dmitri's friend. He began to go to see her, 
to listen to her, to talk to her, and to read to her. 
And we were morally so dense that we only 
laughed at it, while Dmitri was morally so superior, 
so free from caring about people's opinion, that he 
never by word or hint showed that he considered 
that what he was doing was good. He simply did 
it. And it was not a momentary impulse but con- 
tinued all the time we lived in Kazan. 

How clear it is to me now that Dmitri's death 
did not annihilate him, that he existed before I 



52 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

knew him, before he was born, and that he exists 

now after his death! 

[The account of Nicholas LeVin's last illness and 
death, told in Anna Karenina, Part III, chapters 31 
and 32, and in Part IV, chapters 17 to 20 inclusive, 
is closely drawn from Dmitri's illness and death, 
which occurred in January 1857. The following 
notes which Tolstoy gave to Birukov complete what 
he wrote about Dmitri.] 

When our inheritance was divided up, the estate 
of Yasnaya Polyana where we were living was 
allotted to me, the youngest son, as was customary. 
Sergey, as there was a horse-stud at Pirogovo and 
he was very fond of horses, received that estate, 
which was what he wanted. The two remaining 
estates went to Nicholas and Dmitri Nicholas 
receiving Nikolskoe and Dmitri receiving Shcher- 
bachevka (in Kursk province) which we had in- 
herited from Perovsky. I still have a memorandum 
of Dmitri's regarding the ownership of serfs. The 
idea that such ownership should not exist, and that 
serfs should be liberated, was quite unknown in 
our circle in the eighteen forties. The ownership 
of serfs by inheritance seemed a necessary condi- 
tion, and all that could be done to ensure that such 
ownership should not be an evil, was to attend not 
only to the material but also to the moral condition 
of the serfs. And in that sense Dmitri's memoran- 
dum was written, very seriously, naively, and sin- 
cerely. He, a lad of twenty (when he took his 
degree) , took on himself the duty, and considered 
that he could not but undertake the duty, of 
morally guiding hundreds of peasant families, and 
guiding them by threats and punishments in the 
manner Gogol recommends in his Letter to a Land- 
owner. I remember that Dmitri had read that 
letter which was pointed out to him by the prison 



RECOLLECTIONS' 53 

priest. So Dmitri took up his duties as a landowner. 
But besides those obligations of a landowner to his 
serfs, there was at that time another obligation, 
neglect of which was unthinkable, namely, the 
Military or Civil Service. And Dmitri, having taken 
his degree, decided to take up the Civil Service. In 
order to decide which branch to select he bought 
a directory and, having considered all the various 
branches, decided that the most important was 
the legislative. Having decided that, he went to 
Petersburg and called on the Secretary of State of 
the Second Department at the hour when he re- 
ceived petitioners. I can imagine Taneev's amaze- 
ment when among the petitioners he stopped before 
a tall, round-shouldered, badly-dressed young man 
(Dmitri always dressed merely to cover his body) 
with beautiful tranquil eyes and face, and on 
asking what he wanted received the reply that he 
was a Russian nobleman who had finished his 
course at the University and wishing to be of use 
to his fatherland had chosen legislation for his 
sphere of activity. 

'Your name?' 

'Count Tolstoy.' 

'You have not served anywhere?' 

'I have only just finished my course and I only 
wish to be useful.' 

'What post do you want?' 

'It is all the same to me one in which I can be 
useful.' 

Dmitri's serious sincerity so impressed Taneev 
that he took him into the Second Department and 
there handed him over to an official. 

Probably that official's attitude towards him, and 
still more his attitude towards the business of the 
Department, repelled Dmitri, for he did not enter 
the Second Department. He had no acquaintance 



54 'RECOLLECTIONS" 

in Petersburg except D. A. Obolenski, the jurist, 
who had been a lawyer in Kazan when we lived 
there. Dmitri went to see Obolenski at his ddcha 
[country house for summer use] and Obolenski 
laughingly told me about it. 

Obolenski was a very ambitious, fashionable, and 
tactful man. He related how while he was enter- 
taining guests (probably of high rank, such as he 
always cultivated) Dmitri came to him through the 
garden in a cap and a nankeen overcoat. 'At first 
I did not recognize him, but when I did so I tried 
to le mettre d son aise, introduced him to the guests, 
and asked him to take off his overcoat, but it 
appeared that he had nothing on under it.' (He 
considered that unnecessary.) Dmitri sat down and 
unembarrassed by the presence of the guests im- 
mediately turned to Obolenski with the same 
question he had put to Taneev where it would be 
best to serve so as to be of most use? To Obolenski, 
who looked on the Service merely as a means of 
satisfying his ambition, such a question had prob- 
ably never presented itself. But with the tact and 
superficial amiability natural to him he replied by 
indicating various positions and offering his ser- 
vices. But Dmitri was evidently dissatisfied with 
Obolenski as well as with Taneev, for he left 
Petersburg without entering the Service there. He 
went to his own place in the country, and at 
Sudzha, I think it was, took up some post in the 
nobility's organization and concerned himself with 
farming, principally peasant-farming. 

After we left the University I lost sight of him, 
but I know that he continued to live the same strict, 
abstemious life as before, not touching wine, 
tobacco, or women till the age of twenty-six 
which was a very rare thing at that period. I know 
that he associated with monks and pilgrims and 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 55 

became closely associated with a very original man 
who lived with our guardian Vockov, and whose 
origin no one knew. He was called Father Luke, 
and went about in a sort of cassock. He was very 
hideous: short, crooked, dark, but very clean and 
extraordinarily strong. He pressed one's hands as 
with pincers, and always spoke in a significant and 
mysterious way. He lived with Voekov by the 
mill, where he built a small house and arranged 
a remarkable parterre. Dmitri used to take this 
Father Luke about with him. I have heard that 
he also went about with a landowning house- 
grabber of the old sort, a neighbour of Samoylov's. 
I had, I believe, already gone to the Caucasus 
when an extraordinary change came over Dmitri. 
He suddenly began to drink, smoke, squander 
money, and go about with women. How it hap- 
pened I do not know, and I did not see him at that 
period. I only know that the man who led him 
astray was Islenev's youngest son, externally very 
attractive but also profoundly immoral. In this 
life Dmitri was still the same serious, religious man 
he had always been. He bought the prostitute 
Masha, the woman he first knew, out of the brothel 
and took her to live with him. But this new life 
did not endure long. I think it was not so much 
the bad, unwholesome life he led for some months 
in Moscow, as the inward struggle caused by 
reproaches of conscience, that suddenly ruined his 
powerful constitution. He fell ill with consumption, 
went back to the country, underwent treatment in 
towns, and collapsed in Orel, where I saw him for 
the last time, after the Crimean War. His appear- 
ance then was terrible. His enormous hands just 
hung onto the two bones of his arms, and his face 
seemed all eyes the same beautiful, serious eyes, 
but now they had a Questioning look. He coughed 



56 RECOLLECTIONS' 

continually and spat, and did not wish to die or 
to believe that he was dying. Pock-marked Masha 
whom he had bought out was with him and tended 
him, her head bound in a kerchief. When I was 
there a wonder-working icon was brought to the 
house at his wish and I remember the expression 
on his face as he prayed to it. 

I was particularly detestable at that time. I was 
full of conceit and had come to Orel from Peters- 
burg, where I had been going out into society. I 
pitied Dmitri, but not very much. I went to Orel and 
returned to Petersburg, and he died a few days later. 

It really seems to me now that his death troubled 
me chiefly because it prevented me from taking part 
in a Court spectacle that was then being arranged 
and to which I had been invited. 



[When dealing in his biography of L. N. Tolst6y 
with the incident of Tolstoy's defence of a soldier 
on trial for his life for striking an officer, Birukov 
asked Tolstoy to tell him something more than had 
been previously published about it, and Tolstoy 
wrote him the following letter :] 

Dear friend Pavel Ivanovich, 

I am very glad to fulfil your wish and tell you 
more fully of what I thought and felt in connexion 
with my defence of the soldier about which you 
write in your book. That incident had much more 
influence on my life than all the apparently more 
important events the loss or recovery of my for- 
tune, my success or non-success in literature, and 
even the loss of people near to me. 

I will tell how it all happened, and will then try 
to express the thoughts and feelings aroused in me 
by the occurrence at the time, and by the recollec- 
tion of it now. 



'RECOLLECTIONS* 57 

I do not remember what I was specially occupied 
with or absorbed in at the time you will know 
that better than I. I only know that I was living 
a tranquil, self-satisfied, and thoroughly egotistic 
life. In the summer of 1866 we were quite un- 
expectedly visited by Grisha Kolokoltsev, a cadet 
who used to know the Behrs and was an acquain- 
tance of my wife's. It turned out that he was serving 
in an infantry regiment stationed in our vicinity. 
He was a gay, good-natured lad, specially pre- 
occupied at that time by his small Cossack horse 
on which he liked to prance, and he often rode 
over to see us. 

Thanks to him we also made acquaintance with 
his commanding officer, Colonel Yu..., and with 
A. M. Stasyulevich who had either been reduced 
to the ranks or sent to serve as a soldier for some 
political affair (I don't remember which), and who 
was a brother of the well-known editor. Stasyule- 
vich was no longer a young man. He had then 
recently been promoted from the ranks and made 
an ensign, and had joined the regiment of his 
former comrade Yu..., who was now his colonel. 
Both Yu... and Stasyulevich rode over to see us 
occasionally. Yu... was a stout, red-faced, good- 
natured bachelor of a type one often meets, in 
whom human nature is entirely subordinated to 
the conventional position in which they are placed, 
and the retention of which is the chief aim of their 
life. For Colonel Yu... that conventional position 
was his status as a regimental commander. From 
a human standpoint it is impossible to say of such 
a man whether he is good or reasonable, for one 
does not know what he would be like if he ceased 
to be a colonel, a professor, a minister, a judge, 
or a journalist, and were to become a human being. 
So it was with Colonel Yu... He was an acting 



58 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

regimental commander, but what sort of man he 
was it was impossible to tell. I think he did not 
know himself and was not even interested in it. 
But StasyuleVich was a live man, though mutilated 
in various ways and most of all by the misfortunes 
and humiliations which he, an ambitious and 
egotistic man, had so painfully endured. So it 
seemed to me, but I did not know him sufficiently 
to penetrate more deeply into his mental condition. 
I only know that intercourse with him was pleasant 
and evoked a mingled feeling of compassion and 
respect. Later on I lost sight of him, and not long 
afterwards, when their regiment was already 
stationed elsewhere, I heard that he had taken his 
own life in the strangest manner, and without, it 
vras said, any personal reasons. Early one morning 
he put on a heavy wadded military overcoat and 
walked into the river where, as he could not swim, 
he sank on reaching a deep place. 

I do not remember whether it was Kolokoltsev 
or Stasyulevich who, having come to us one day 
in summer, told of something that had occurred 
a most terrible and unusual event for military men. 
A soldier had struck a company commander, a 
captain from the Academy. Stasyulevich spoke of 
the affair with particular warmth and with feeling 
for the fate that awaited the soldier, namely, the 
death-sentence, and asked me to plead his cause 
before the military tribunal. 

I should mention that I was always not merely 
shocked by the fact that some men should sentence 
others to death and that yet others should perform 
the execution, but it appeared to me an impossible, 
invented thing one of those deeds in the perfor- 
mance of which one refuses to believe though one 
knows quite well that such actions have been and 
are performed. Capital punishment has been and 



RECOLLECTIONS 1 59 

remains for me one of those human actions the 
actual performance of which does not infringe in 
me the consciousness of their impossibility. 

I understand that under the influence of momen- 
tary irritation, hatred, revenge, or loss of conscious- 
ness of his humanity, a man may kill another in his 
own defence or in defence of a friend ; or that under 
the influence of patriotic mass-hypnotism and while 
exposing himself to death he may take part in 
collective murder in war. But that men in full 
control of their human attributes can quietly and 
deliberately admit the necessity of killing a fellow 
man, and can oblige others to perform that action 
so contrary to human nature, I never can under- 
stand. Nor did I understand it then when I was 
living my limited egotistical life in 1866, and so, 
strange as it may have been, I undertook the man's 
defence with some hope of success. 

I remember that arriving at the village of (3zerki 
where the prisoner was kept (I don't quite remem- 
ber whether it was in a special building or the one 
in which the deed had been committed) I entered 
the low brick hut and was met by a small man 
with high cheek-bones who was stout rather than 
thin, which is very rare among soldiers, and who 
had a very simple, unchanging expression of face. 
I don't remember who was with me, but I think 
it was Kolokoltsev. When we entered the man 
rose in military fashion. I explained to him that 
I wished to be his advocate and asked him to tell 
me how the affair had occurred. He said little, and 
answered my questions reluctantly with 'just so'. 
The sense of his replies was that it had been very 
dull and the captain had been very exacting. 'He 
pressed me very hard,' said he. ... 

As I understood, the reason of his action was that 
the captain a man always apparently calm had 



6o RECOLLECTIONS' 

for some months brought him to the last degree of 
exasperation by his quiet monotonous voice, de- 
manding implicit obedience and the rewriting of 
work which the man (an office orderly) considered 
he had done correctly. The essence of the matter, 
as I then understood it, was that besides the official 
relations between the two, a painful relation of 
mutual hatred had established itself between them. 
The company commander, as often happens, felt 
an antipathy to the man, which was increased by 
a suspicion that the man in his turn hated him for 
being a Pole ; and availing himself of his position 
he took pleasure in being always dissatisfied with 
whatever the man did, and repeatedly obliged him 
to rewrite what the man himself considered to be 
faultlessly done. The man for his part hated the 
captain both for being a Pole and for not acknow- 
ledging his competence, and most of all for his 
calmness and the unapproachability of his position. 
That hatred finding no vent burnt up more fiercely 
with each new reproach that was uttered, and on 
reaching its zenith burst out in a way he did not 
himself at all anticipate. In your Biography it is 
said that the explosion was evoked by the captain 
saying he would have the man flogged. That is a 
mistake. The captain gave him back a paper and 
ordered him to correct it and rewrite it. 

The Court was soon set up. The President was 
Yu... and the two assistant members were Kolo- 
koltsev and Stasyulevich. The prisoner was brought 
in. After I forget what formalities, I read my speech, 
which now not only seems to me strange but fills 
me with shame. The judges, their weariness 
evidently only concealed by propriety, listened to 
all the futilities I uttered referring to such-and- 
such an article of volume so-and-so, and, when it 
had all been heard, went out to consult together. 



RECOLLECTIONS' 6 1 

At that consultation, as I subsequently learnt, only 
StasyuleVich was in favour of the application of 
the stupid paragraph of the law that I had cited, 
namely, that the prisoner should be acquitted on 
the ground of his irresponsibility for the action. 
Kolokoltsev, good kindly lad, though he certainly 
would have liked to do what I wanted, neverthe- 
less submitted to Yu..., and his vote decided the 
matter. Sentence of death by being shot was read. 
Immediately after the trial I wrote to a near 
friend of mine, Alexandra Andreevna Tolstaya, a 
Maid of Honour and in favour at Court, asking 
her to intercede with the Emperor (Alexander II) 
for a pardon for Shibunin. I wrote to her, but dis- 
tractedly omitted to give the name of the regiment 
in which the case had occurred. She addressed 
herself to Milyutin, the Minister of War, but he 
said it was impossible to petition the Emperor with- 
out indicating the prisoner's regiment. She wrote 
that to me and I hastened to reply, but the regi- 
mental commander also hastened, and by the time 
the petition was ready for presentation to the 
Emperor the execution had already taken place. . . . 

Yes, it is horribly revolting to me now to re-read 
my pitiful, repulsive speech for the defence, which 
you have printed. Speaking of the most evident 
infringement of all laws human and divine, which 
some men were preparing to perpetrate against 
their brother-man, I did nothing better than cite 
some stupid words written by somebody and en- 
titled laws. 

Yes, I am ashamed now to have uttered that 
wretched and stupid defence. If a man under- 
stands what people have assembled to do sitting 
in their uniforms on three sides of a table and 
imagining that, because they are so sitting, and 
because certain words are written in certain books 



62 'RECOLLECTIONS' 

and on certain sheets of paper with printed head- 
ings, they may infringe the eternal, general law 
written not in books but in every human heart 
then the one thing that may and should be said 
to such men is to beseech them to remember who 
they are and what they propose to do, and cer- 
tainly not to prove astutely by false and stupid 
words called laws, that it is possible not to kill the 
man before them. All men know that the life of 
every man is sacred and that no man has a right 
to deprive another of life, and it cannot be proved 
because it needs no proof. Only one thing is 
possible, necessary, and right: to try to free men 
judges from the stupefaction that leads them to 
such a wild and inhuman intention. To prove 
that one should not sentence a man to death is 
the same as to prove that a man should not do 
what is repellant and contrary to his nature: that 
he should not go naked in winter, should not feed 
himself on the contents of cesspools, and should 
not walk on all fours. That it is discordant with, 
and contrary to, human nature was proved long 
ago by the story of the woman who was to be 
stoned to death. 

Is it possible that people are now so just 
Colonel Yu... and Grisha Kolokoltsev with his 
little horse that they no longer fear to cast the 
first stone? 

I did not then understand this, and did not under- 
stand it when, through my cousin Tolstaya, I 
petitioned for a pardon for Shibunin. I cannot 
but feel amazed at the delusion I then was in that 
all that was done to Shibunin was quite normal. 

I did not then understand anything of this. I 
only dimly felt that something had happened that 
should not have happened, and that this affair was 



RECOLLECTIONS' 63 

not a casual occurrence but had a profound con- 
nexion with all the other errors and sufferings of 
mankind and that it lies indeed at the root of all 
of them. 

Even then I felt dimly that the death penalty, 
a conscious, deliberate, and premeditated murder, 
is an action directly contrary to the Christian law 
which we, it would seem, profess, and is an action 
obviously infringing the possibility both of a 
reasonable life and of any morality. For it is 
evident that if one man, or an assembly of men, 
may decide that it is necessary to kill one man or 
many men, there is nothing to prevent another 
man or other men from finding a similar necessity 
for the murder of others. And what reasonable life 
or morality can there be among people who may 
kill one another when they please to do so? 

I dimly felt even then that the justification of 
murder that is put forward by the Church and 
by science, instead of attaining its object of justify- 
ing the use of violence, proved on the contrary the 
falsity of the Church and of science. I had felt 
that dimly for the first time in Paris when I was 
a far-off witness of an execution, 1 and I felt it more 
clearly far more clearly now when I took part in 
this affair. But I still feared to trust myself and 
sunder myself from the judgement of the whole 
world. Only much later was I brought to the neces- 
sity of believing my own convictions and denying 
those two terrible deceptions that hold the people of 
our day in their power and produce all those mis- 
fortunes from which mankind suffers : the deception 
of the Church and the deception of science. 

Only much later when I began to examine 
attentively the arguments by which the Church and 
science try to support and justify the existing 
1 In 1857. See Confession, p. 12. A. M. 



64 RECOLLECTIONS' 

State, did I see through the obvious and coarse 
deceptions by which they both try to hide from 
men the evil deeds the State commits. I saw those 
disquisitions in the catechism and in scientific 
books circulated by millions, in which the right- 
ness and necessity of the murder of some people at 
the will of others is explained. . . . 

In scientific works of two kinds those called 
jurisprudence with their criminal law, and in works 
of what is called pure science the same thing is 
argued with even more narrowness and confidence. 
About criminal law there is nothing to be said : it is 
all a series of most evident sophistries aiming at 
the justification of all sorts of violence done by man 
to man, as well as of murder itself. And in the 
scientific works, beginning with Darwin who puts 
the law of the struggle for existence at the basis of 
the progress of life, the same is implied. Some 
enfants terribles of that doctrine, like the celebrated 
professor Ernst Haeckel of Jena University in his 
famous work Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte (the 
gospel of sceptics) , state it plainly : 

'Artificial selection exerts a very beneficial influ- 
ence on the cultural life of humanity. How great 
in the complex advance of civilization is, for 
instance, a good school education and upbringing ! 
Like artificial selection, capital punishment also 
renders a similarly beneficial influence, though at 
the present day many people ardently advocate 
its abolition as a 'liberal measure', and produce a 
series of absurd arguments in the name of a false 
humanitarianism. 

'In fact, however, capital punishment, for the 
enormous majority of incorrigible criminals and 
scoundrels, is not only a just retribution but also 
a great benefit for the better part of mankind, just 
as for the successful cultivation of a well-tended 



'RECOLLECTIONS' 65 

garden the destruction of harmful weeds is neces- 
sary. And just as the careful removal of the weedy 
overgrowth gives more light, air, and room to 
plants, the unremitting extinction of all hardened 
criminals will not merely lighten the "struggle for 
existence" for the better part of humanity, but will 
produce an artificial selection advantageous for it, 
since in that way those degenerate dregs of 
humanity will be deprived of the possibility of 
passing on their bad qualities to the rest of man- 
kind.' 

And people read that, teach it, call it science, and 
it enters no one's head to put the question that 
naturally presents itself, as to who if it is useful 
to kill the harmful people is to decide \\lio is 
harmful? I, for instance, consider that I do not 
know anyone worse and more harmful than Mr. 
Haeckel. Am I and others of my opinion really 
to sentence Mr. Haeckel to be hanged? On the 
contrary, the more profound his error the more 
I should wish him to become reasonable, and in no 
case should I wish to deprive him of the possibility 
of becoming so. 

It is Church lies and scientific lies such as these 
that have brought us to the position we are now 
in. Not months but years have now passed during 
which there has not been a day without executions 
and murders. Some people are glad when there 
are more murders by the government than by the 
revolutionaries, and others are glad when more 
generals, landowners, merchants, and policemen 
are killed. On the one hand, rewards of ten and 
twenty-five rubles are paid out for murders, and 
on the other the revolutionists honour murderers 
and expropriators and extol them as heroic 
martyrs. . . . Tear not them which kill the body, 
but those that destroy both soul and body. . . .' 

459 D 



66 'RECOLLECTIONS* 

All this I understood much later, but dimly felt 
even when I so stupidly and shamefully defended 
that unfortunate soldier. That is why I say that 
that incident has had a very strong and important 
influence on my life. 

Yes, that incident had an enormous and bene- 
ficial influence on me. On that occasion I felt 
for the first time, primarily that all violence pre- 
supposes for its accomplishment murder, or a 
threat of murder, and that therefore all violence 
is inevitably connected with murder; secondly that 
the organization of government is unimaginable 
without murders and is therefore incompatible 
with Christianity ; and thirdly that what among us 
is called science is only a lying justification of 
existing evils, just as the Church teaching used 
to be. 

That is clear to me now, but then it was only 
a dim recognition of the falsehood amid which my 
life was passing. 

LEO TOLSTOY. 

YASNAYA POLYANA, 

24th May 



WHY DO MEN STUPEFY 
THEMSELVES? 

I 

WHAT is the explanation of the fact that people 
use things that stupefy them: v6dka, wine, 
beer, hashish, opium, tobacco, and other things 
less common : ether, morphia, fly-agaric, &c. ? Why 
did the practice begin? Why has it spread so 
rapidly, and why is it still spreading among all 
sorts of people, savage and civilized? How is it 
that where there is no v6dka, wine or beer, we 
find opium, hashish, fly-agaric, and the like, and 
that tobacco is used everywhere? 

Why do people wish to stupefy themselves ? 

Ask anyone why he began drinking wine and 
why he now drinks it. He will reply, 'Oh, I like 
it, and everybody drinks,' and he may add, 'it 
cheers me up.' Some those who have never once 
taken the trouble to consider whether they do well 
or ill to drink wine may add that w r ine is good 
for the health and adds to one's strength; that is 
to say, will make a statement long since proved 
baseless. 

Ask a smoker why he began to use tobacco and 
why he now smokes, and he also will reply: 'To 
while away the time; everybody smokes.' 

Similar answers would probably be given by 
those who use opium, hashish, morphia, or fly- 
agaric. 

'To while away time, to cheer oneself up ; every- 
body does it.' But it might be excusable to twiddle 
one's thumbs, to whistle, to hum tunes, to play 
a fife or to do something of that sort 'to while 
away the time,' 'to cheer oneself up,' or 'because 



68 WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 
everybody does it' that is to say, it might be 
excusable to do something which does not involve 
wasting Nature's wealth, or spending what has cost 
great labour to produce, or doing what brings 
evident harm to oneself and to others. But to pro- 
duce tobacco, wine, hashish, and opium, the labour 
of millions of men is spent, and millions and millions 
of acres of the best land (often amid a population 
that is short of land) are employed to grow 
potatoes, hemp, poppies, vines, and tobacco. 
Moreover, the use of these evidently harmful 
things produces terrible evils known and admitted 
by everyone, and destroys more people than all the 
wars and contagious diseases added together. And 
people know this, so that they cannot really use 
these things 'to while away time,' 'to cheer them- 
selves up,' or because 'everybody does it.' 

There must be some other reason. Continually 
and everywhere one meets people who love their 
children and are ready to make all kinds of sacri- 
fices for them, but who yet spend on vodka, wine 
and beer, or on opium, hashish, or even tobacco, 
as much as would quite suffice to feed their hungry 
and poverty-stricken children, or at least as much 
as would suffice to save them from misery. Evi- 
dently if a man who has to choose between the 
want and sufferings of a family he loves on the 
one hand, and abstinence from stupefying things 
on the other, chooses the former he must be 
induced thereto by something more potent than 
the consideration that everybody does it, or that 
it is pleasant. Evidently it is done not 'to while 
away time, 9 nor merely 'to cheer himself up.' He 
is actuated by some more powerful cause. 

This cause as far as I have detected it by 
reading about this subject and by observing other 
people, and particularly by observing my own 



WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 69 
case when I used to drink wine and smoke tobacco 
this cause, I think, may be explained as follows: 

When observing his own life, a man may often 
notice in himself two different beings: the one is 
blind and physical, the other sees and is spiritual. 
The blind animal being eats, drinks, rests, sleeps, 
propagates, and moves, like a wound-up machine. 
The seeing, spiritual being that is bound up with 
the animal does nothing of itself, but only ap- 
praises the activity of the animal being; coinciding 
with it when approving its activity, and diverging 
from it when disapproving. 

This observing being may be compared to the 
needle of a compass, pointing with one end to the 
north and with the other to the south, but screened 
along its whole length by something not noticeable 
so long as it and the needle both point the same 
way; but which becomes obvious as soon as they 
point different ways. 

In the same manner the seeing, spiritual being, 
whose manifestation we commonly call conscience, 
always points with one end towards right and with 
the other towards wrong, and we do not notice 
it while we follow the course it shows: the course 
from wrong to right. But one need only do some- 
thing contrary to the indication of conscience to 
become aware of this spiritual being, which then 
shows how the animal activity has diverged from 
the direction indicated by conscience. And as a 
navigator conscious that he is on the wrong track 
cannot continue to work the oars, engine, or sails, 
till he has adjusted his course to the indications of 
the compass, or has obliterated his consciousness 
of this divergence each man who has felt the 
duality of his animal activity and his conscience 
can continue his activity only by adjusting that 
activity to the demands of conscience, or by hiding 



70 WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 
from himself the indications conscience gives him 
of the wrongness of his animal life. 

All human life, we may say, consists solely of 
these two activities: (i) bringing one's activities 
into harmony with conscience, or (2) hiding from 
oneself the indications of conscience in order to 
be able to continue to live as before. 

Some do the first, others the second. To attain 
the first there is but one means: moral enlighten- 
ment the increase of light in oneself and attention 
to what it shows. To attain the second to hide 
from oneself the indications of conscience there 
are two means : one external and the other internal. 
The external means consists in occupations that 
divert one's attention from the indications given 
by conscience; the internal method consists in 
darkening conscience itself. 

As a man has two ways of avoiding seeing an 
object that is before him: either by diverting his 
sight to other more striking objects, or by obstruct- 
ing the sight of his own eyes just so a man can 
hide from himself the indications of conscience in 
two ways: either by the external method of divert- 
ing his attention to various occupations, cares, 
amusements, or games; or by the internal method 
of obstructing the organ of attention itself. For 
people of dull, limited moral feeling, the external 
diversions are often quite sufficient to enable them 
not to perceive the indications conscience gives 
of the wrongness of their lives. But for morally 
sensitive people those means are often insufficient. 

The external means do not quite divert attention 
from the consciousness of discord between one's 
life and the demands of conscience. This con- 
sciousness hampers one's life: and in order to be 
able to go on living as before people have recourse 
to the reliable, internal method, which is that of 



WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 71 
darkening conscience itself by poisoning the brain 
with stupefying substances. 

One is not living as conscience demands, yet 
lacks the strength to reshape one's life in accord 
with its demands. The diversions \\hich might 
distract attention from the consciousness of this 
discord are insufficient, or have become stale, and 
so in order to be able to live on, disregarding 
the indications conscience gives of the wrong- 
ness of their life people (by poisoning it tempora- 
rily) stop the activity of the organ through which 
conscience manifests itself, as a man by covering 
his eyes hides from himself what he does not wish 
to see. 

II 

The cause of the world-wide consumption of 
hashish, opium, wine, and tobacco, lies not in the 
taste, nor in any pleasure, recreation, or mirth 
they afford, but simply in man's need to hide from 
himself the demands of conscience. 

I was going along the street one day, and passing 
some cabmen who were talking, I heard one of 
them say: 'Of course when a man's sober he's 
ashamed to do it!' 

When a man is sober he is ashamed of what 
seems all right when he is drunk. In these words 
we have the essential underlying cause prompting 
men to resort to stupefiers. People resort to them 
either to escape feeling ashamed after having done 
something contrary to their consciences, or to 
bring themselves beforehand into a state in which 
they can commit actions contrary to conscience, 
but to which their animal nature prompts them. 

A man when sober is ashamed to go after a 
prostitute, ashamed to steal, ashamed to kill. A 
drunken man is ashamed of none of these things, 



72 WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 
and therefore if a man wishes to do something 
his conscience condemns he stupefies himself. 

I remember being struck by the evidence of a 
man-cook who was tried for murdering a relation 
of mine, an old lady in whose service he lived. 
He related that when he had sent away his para- 
mour, the servant-girl, and the time had come to 
act, he wished to go into the bedroom with a knife, 
but felt that while sober he could not commit the 
deed he had planned . . . 'when a man's sober 
he's ashamed.' He turned back, drank two 
tumblers of vodka he had prepared beforehand, 
and only then felt himself ready, and committed 
the crime. 

Nine-tenths of the crimes are committed in that 
way: 'Drink to keep up your courage.' 

Half the women who fall do so under the influ- 
ence of wine. Nearly all visits to disorderly houses 
are paid by men who are intoxicated. People know 
this capacity of wine to stifle the voice of conscience, 
and intentionally use it for that purpose. 

Not only do people stupefy themselves to stifle 
their own consciences, but, knowing how wine acts, 
they intentionally stupefy others when they wish 
to make them commit actions contrary to con- 
science that is, they arrange to stupefy people in 
order to deprive them of conscience. In war, 
soldiers are usually intoxicated before a hand-to- 
hand fight. All the French soldiers in the assaults 
on Sevastopol were drunk. 

When a fortified place has been captured but 
the soldiers do not sack it and slay the defenceless 
old men and children, orders are often given to 
make them drunk and then they do what is 
expected of them. 1 

1 See the allusion to Sk6belev's conduct at Geok-Tepe on 
the last page of Tales of Army Life. A. M. 



WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 73 

Everyone knows people who have taken to drink 
in consequence of some wrong-doing that has 
tormented their conscience. Anyone can notice 
that those who lead immoral lives are more at- 
tracted than others by stupefying substances. 
Bands of robbers or thieves, and prostitutes, cannot 
live without intoxicants. 

Everyone knows and admits that the use of 
stupefying substances is a consequence of the pangs 
of conscience, and that in certain immoral ways 
of life stupefying substances are employed to stifle 
conscience. Everyone knows and admits also that 
the use of stupefiers does stifle conscience: that a 
drunken man is capable of deeds of which when 
sober he would not think for a moment. Everyone 
agrees to this, but strange to say when the use of 
stupefiers does not result in such deeds as thefts, 
murders, violations, and so forth when stupefiers 
are taken not after some terrible crimes, but by 
men following professions which w r e do not consider 
criminal, and when the substances are consumed 
not in large quantities at once but continually in 
moderate doses then (for some reason) it is 
assumed that stupefying substances have no ten- 
dency to stifle conscience. 

Thus it is supposed that a well-to-do Russian's 
glass of vodka before each meal and tumbler of 
wine with the meal, or a Frenchman's absinthe, 
or an Englishman's port wine and porter, or a 
German's lager-beer, or a well-to-do Chinaman's 
moderate dose of opium, and the smoking of 
tobacco with them is done only for pleasure and has 
no effect whatever on these people's consciences. 

It is supposed that if after this customary stupe- 
faction no crime is committed no theft or 
murder, but only customary bad and stupid actions 
then these actions have occurred of themselves 



74 WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 
and are not evoked by the stupefaction. It is sup- 
posed that if these people have not committed 
offences against the criminal law they have no 
need to stifle the voice of conscience, and that the 
life led by people who habitually stupefy themselves 
is quite a good life, and would be precisely the same 
if they did not stupefy themselves. It is supposed 
that the constant use of stupefiers does not in the 
least darken their consciences. 

Though everybody knows by experience that a 
man's frame of mind is altered by the use of wine 
or tobacco, that he is not ashamed of things which 
but for the stimulant he would be ashamed of, 
that after each twinge of conscience, however 
slight, he is inclined to have recourse to some 
stupefier, and that under the influence of stupefiers 
it is difficult to reflect on his life and position, and 
that the constant and regular use of stupefiers pro- 
duces the same physiological effect as its occasional 
immoderate use does yet in spite of all this it 
seems to men who drink and smoke moderately 
that they use stupefiers not at all to stifle conscience, 
but only for the flavour or for pleasure. 

But one need only think of the matter seriously 
and impartially not trying to excuse oneself to 
understand, first, that if the use of stupefiers in 
large occasional doses stifles man's conscience, 
their regular use must have a like effect (always 
first intensifying and then dulling the activity of 
the brain) whether they are taken in large or small 
doses. Secondly, that all stupefiers have the 
quality of stifling conscience, and have this always 
both when under their influence murders, rob- 
beries, and violations are committed, and when 
under their influence words are spoken which 
would not have been spoken, or things are thought 
and felt which but for them would not have been 



WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 75 

thought and felt; and, thirdly, that if the use of 
stupefiers is needed to pacify and stifle the con- 
sciences of thieves, robbers, and prostitutes, it is 
also wanted by people engaged in occupations 
condemned by their own consciences, even though 
these occupations may be considered proper and 
honourable by other people. 

In a word, it is impossible to avoid understanding 
that the use of stupefiers, in large or small amounts, 
occasionally or regularly, in the higher or lower 
circles of society, is evoked by one and the same 
cause, the need to stifle the voice of conscience in 
order not to be aware of the discord existing between 
one's way of life and the demands of one's conscience. 

Ill 

In that alone lies the reason of the widespread 
use of all stupefying substances, and among the 
rest of tobacco probably the most generally used 
and most harmful. 

It is supposed that tobacco cheers one up, clears 
the thoughts, and attracts one merely like any other 
habit without at all producing the deadening of 
conscience produced by wine. But you need only 
observe attentively the conditions under which a 
special desire to smoke arises, and you will be 
convinced that stupefying with tobacco acts on 
the conscience as wine does, and that people con- 
sciously have recourse to this method of stupe- 
faction just when they require it for that purpose. 
If tobacco merely cleared the thoughts and cheered 
one up there would not be such a passionate 
craving for it, a craving showing itself just on 
certain definite occasions. People would not say 
that they would rather go without bread than 
without tobacco, and would not often actually 
prefer tobacco to food. 



76 WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 

That man-cook who murdered his mistress said 
that when he entered the bedroom and had gashed 
her throat with his knife and she had fallen with 
a rattle in her throat and the blood had gushed 
out in a torrent he lost his courage. 'I could not 
finish her off, 5 he said, 'but I went back from the 
bedroom to the sitting-room and sat down there 
and smoked a cigarette.' Only after stupefying 
himself with tobacco was he able to return to the 
bedroom, finish cutting the old lady's throat, and 
begin examining her things. 

Evidently the desire to smoke at that moment 
was evoked in him, not by a wish to clear his 
thoughts or be merry, but by the need to stifle 
something that prevented him from completing 
what he had planned to do. 

Any smoker may detect in himself the same 
definite desire to stupefy himself with tobacco at 
certain specially difficult moments. I look back 
at the days when I used to smoke : when was it that 
I felt a special need of tobacco? It was always at 
moments when I did not wish to remember certain 
things that presented themselves to my recollection, 
when I wished to forget not to think. I sit by 
myself doing nothing and know I ought to set to 
work, but I don't feel' inclined to, so I smoke and 
go on pitting. I have promised to be at someone's 
hpuse by five o'clock, but I have stayed too long 
somewhere ,else. I remember that I have missed 
the "appointment, but I do not like to remember it, 
so I smoke. I get vexed arid say unpleasant things 
to someone, and know I atn doing wrong and see 
that I ought to stop, but I want to give vent to 
my irritability so I smoke and continue to be 
irritable. r I play at cards and lose more than I 
intended to risk so I smoke. I have placed myself 
in an awkward position, have acted badly, have 



WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 77 

made a mistake, and ought to acknowledge the 
mess I am in and thus escape from it, but I do not 
like to acknowledge it, so I accuse others and 
smoke. I write something and am not quite satisfied 
with what I have written. I ought to abandon it, 
but I wish to finish what I have planned to do 
so I smoke. I dispute, and see that my opponent 
and I do not understand and cannot understand 
one another, but I wish to express my opinion, so 
I continue to talk and I smoke. 

What distinguishes tobacco from most other 
stupefiers, besides the ease with which one can 
stupefy oneself with it and its apparent harmless- 
ness, is its portability and the possibility of applying 
it to meet small, isolated occurrences that disturb 
one. Not to mention that the use of opium, wine, 
and hashish involves the use of certain appliances 
not always at hand, while one can always carry 
tobacco and paper with one; and that the opium- 
smoker and the drunkard evoke horror while a 
tobacco-smoker does not seem at all repulsive 
the advantage of tobacco over other stupefiers is, 
that the stupefaction of opium, hashish, or wine 
extends to all the scnsations^imd' ilLLncccived or 
produced during a cer 
period of time whjl 
tobacco can be directs 
You wish to do what! 
a cigarette and 
enable you to do 
then you are all 
speak clearly; or 
should not again 
unpleasant consciousrll 
action is obliterated, an8 
with other things and for 

But apart from individual cases Hf which every 





78 WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 
smoker has recourse to smoking, not to satisfy a 
habit or while away time but as a means of stifling 
his conscience with reference to acts he is about 
to commit or has already committed, is it not quite 
evident that there is a strict and definite relation 
between men's way of life and their passion for 
smoking ? 

When do lads begin to smoke? Usually when 
they lose their childish innocence. How is it that 
smokers can abandon smoking when they come 
among more moral conditions of life, and again 
start smoking as soon as they fall among a depraved 
set? Why do gamblers almost all smoke? Why 
among women do those who lead a regular life 
smoke least? Why do prostitutes and madmen all 
smoke? Habit is habit, but evidently smoking 
stands in some definite connexion with the craving 
to stifle conscience, and achieves the end required 
of it. 

One may observe in the case of almost every 
smoker to what an extent smoking drowns the 
voice of conscience. Every smoker when yielding 
to his desire forgets, or sets at naught, the very first 
demands of social life demands he expects others 
to observe, and which he observes in all other cases 
until his conscience is stifled by tobacco. Everyone 
of average education considers it inadmissible, ill- 
bred, and inhumane to infringe the peace, com- 
fort, and still more the health of others for his 
own pleasure. No one would allow himself to wet 
a room in which people are sitting, or to make a 
noise, shout, let in cold, hot, or ill-smelling air, 
or commit acts that incommode or harm others. 
But out of a thousand smokers not one will shrink 
from producing unwholesome smoke in a room 
where the air is breathed by non-smoking women 
and children. 



WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 79 

If smokers do usually say to those present : 'You 
don't object?' everyone knows that the customary 
answer is: 'Not at all' (although it cannot be 
pleasant to a non-smoker to breathe tainted air, and 
to find etinidng cigar-ends in glasses and cups or 
on plates and candlesticks, or even in ashpans). 1 
But even if non-smoking adults did not object to 
tobacco-smoke, it could not be pleasant or good 
for the children whose consent no one asks. Yet 
people who are honourable and humane in all 
other respects smoke in the presence of children 
at dinner in small rooms, vitiating the air with 
tobacco-smoke, \\ ithout feeling the slightest twinge 
of conscience. 

It is usually said (and I used to say) that smoking 
facilitates mental work. And that is undoubtedly 
true if one considers only the quantity of one's 
mental output. To a man who smokes, and who 
consequently ceases strictly to appraise and weigh 
his thoughts, it seems as if he suddenly had many 
thoughts. But this is not because he really has 
many thoughts, but only because he has lost control 
of his thoughts. 

When a man works he is always conscious of two 
beings in himself: the one works, the other ap- 
praises the work. The stricter the appraisement the 
slower and the better is the work; and vice versa, 
when the appraiser is under the influence of some- 
thing that stupefies him, more work gets done, but 
its quality is poorer. 

'If I do not smoke I cannot write. I cannot get 
on; I begin and cannot continue,' is what is usually 
said, and what I used to say. What does it really 

1 In the matters alluded to the Russian customs are worse 
than the English, partly perhaps because in Russia the smell 
of stale tobacco in the rooms is less offensive than in England 
owing to a drier climate. A. M. 



8o WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 
mean? It means either that you have nothing to 
write, or that what you wish to write has not yet 
matured in your consciousness but is only beginning 
dimly to present itself to you, and the appraising 
critic within, when not stupefied with tobacco, tells 
you so. If you did not smoke you would either 
abandon what you have begun, or you would wait 
until your thought has cleared itself in your mind ; 
you would try to penetrate into what presents itself 
dimly to you, would consider the objections that 
offer themselves, and would turn all your attention 
to the elucidation of the thought. But you smoke, 
the critic within you is stupefied, and the hindrance 
to your work is removed. What seemed insignificant 
to you when not inebriated by tobacco, again seems 
important; what seemed obscure no longer seems 
so; the objections that presented themselves vanish 
and you continue to write, and write much and 
rapidly. 

IV 

But can such a small such a trifling alteration 
as the slight intoxication produced by the moderate 
use of wine or tobacco produce important conse- 
quences? 'If a man smokes opium or hashish, or 
intoxicates himself with wine till he falls down and 
loses his senses, of course the consequences may be 
very serious; but it surely cannot have any serious 
consequences if a man merely comes slightly under 
the influence of hops or tobacco,' is what is usually 
said. It seems to people that a slight stupefaction, 
a little darkening of the judgement, cannot have 
any important influence. But to think so is like 
supposing that it may harm a watch to be struck 
against a stone, but that a little dirt introduced 
into it cannot be harmful. 

Remember, however, that the chief work actuat- 



WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES > 81 
ing man's whole life is not done by his hands, his 
feet, or his back, but by his consciousness. Before 
a man can do anything with his feet or hands, a 
certain alteration has first to take place in his 
consciousness. And this alteration defines all the 
subsequent movements of the man. Yet these altera- 
' tions are always minute and almost imperceptible. 

Bryullov 1 one day corrected a pupil's study. The 
pupil, having glanced at the altered dra\\ing, ex- 
claimed: 'Why, you only touched it a tiny bit, but 
it is quite another thing.' Bryullov replied: 'Art 
begins where the tiny bit begins.' 

That saying is strikingly true not only of art but 
of all life. One may say that true life begins where 
the tiny bit begins where what seem to us minute 
and infinitely small alterations take place. True 
life is not lived where great external changes take 
place where people move about, clash, fight, and 
slay one another it is lived only where these tim , 
tiny, infinitesimally small changes occur. 

Raskolnikov 2 did not live his true life when he 
murdered the old woman or her sister. When 
murdering the old woman herself, and still more 
when murdering her sister, he did not live his 
true life, but acted like a machine, doing what he 
could not help doing discharging the cartridge 
with which he had long been loaded. One old 
woman was killed, another stood before him, the 
axe was in his hand. 

Raskolnikov lived his true life not when he met 
the old woman's sister, but at the time when he had 
not yet killed any old woman, nor entered a 
stranger's lodging with intent to kill, nor held the 
axe in his hand, nor had the loop in his overcoat 
by which the axe hung. He lived his true life when 

1 K. P. Bryull6v, a celebrated Russian painter (i 799-1852). 
a The hero of Dostoevski's novel, Crime and Punishment. 



82 WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES* 
he was lying on the sofa in his room, deliberating 
not at all about the old woman, nor even as to 
whether it is or is not permissible at the will of 
one man to wipe from the face of the earth another, 
unnecessary and harmful, man, but whether he 
ought to live in Petersburg or not, whether he 
ought to accept money from his mother r not, 
and on other questions not at all relating to the 
old woman. And then in that region quite inde- 
pendent of animal activities the question whether 
he would or would not kill the old woman was 
decided. That question was decided not when, 
having killed one old woman, he stood before 
another, axe in hand but when he was doing 
nothing and was only thinking, when only his 
consciousness was active : and in that consciousness 
tiny, tiny alterations were taking place. It is at 
such times that one needs the greatest clearness 
to decide correctly the questions that have arisen, 
and it is just then that one glass of beer, or one 
cigarette, may prevent the solution of the question, 
may postpone the decision, stifle the voice of con- 
science and prompt a decision of the question in 
favour of the lower, animal nature as was the 
case with Raskolnikov. 

Tiny, tiny alterations but on them depend the 
most immense and terrible consequences. Many 
material changes may result from what happens 
when a man has taken a decision and begun to 
act: houses, riches, and people's bodies may perish, 
but nothing more important can happen than what 
was hidden in the man's consciousness. The limits 
of what can happen are set by consciousness. 

And boundless results of unimaginable impor- 
tance may follow from most minute alterations 
occurring in the domain of consciousness. 

Do not let it be supposed that what I am saying 



WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 83 

has anything to do with the question of free will 
or determinism. Discussion on that question is 
superfluous for my purpose, or for any other for 
that matter. Without deciding the question whether 
a man can, or cannot, act as he wishes (a question 
in my opinion not correctly stated), I am merely 
saying that since human activity is conditioned by 
infinitesimal alterations in consciousness, it follows 
(no matter whether we admit the existence of free 
will or not) that we must pay particular attention 
to the condition in which these minute alterations 
take place, just as one must be specially attentive 
to the condition of scales on which other things 
are to be weighed. We must, as far as it depends 
on us, try to put ourselves and others in conditions 
which will not disturb the clearness and delicacy 
of thought necessary for the correct working 
of conscience, and must not act in the con- 
trary manner trying to hinder and confuse the 
work of conscience by the use of stupefying sub- 
stances. 

For man is a spiritual as well as an animal being. 
He may be moved by things that influence his 
spiritual nature, or by things that influence his 
animal nature, as a clock may be moved by its 
hands or by its main wheel. And just as it is best 
to regulate the movement of a clock by means of 
its inner mechanism, so a man oneself or another 
is best regulated by means of his consciousness. 
And as with a clock one has to take special care of 
that part by means of which one can best move the 
inner mechanism, so with a man one must take 
special care of the cleanness and clearness of 
consciousness which is the thing that best moves 
the whole man. To doubt this is impossible ; every- 
one knows it. But a need to deceive oneself arises. 
People are not as anxious that consciousness should 



84 WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 
work correctly as they are that it should seem to 
them that what they are doing is right, and they 
deliberately make use of substances that disturb the 
proper working of their consciousness. 

V 

People drink and smoke, not casually, not from 
dulness, not to cheer themselves up, not because it 
is pleasant, but in order to drown the voice of 
conscience in themselves. And in that case, how 
terrible must be the consequences! Think what 
a building would be like erected by people who 
did not use a straight plumb-rule to get the walls 
perpendicular, nor right-angled squares to get the 
corners correct, but used a soft rule which would 
bend to suit all irregularities in the walls, and a 
square that expanded to fit any angle, acute or 
obtuse. 

Yet, thanks to self-stupefaction, that is just what 
is being done in life. Life does not accord with 
conscience, so conscience is made to bend to life. 

This is done in the life of individuals, and it is 
done in the life of humanity as a whole, which 
consists of the lives of individuals. 

To grasp the full significance of such stupefying 
of one's consciousness, let each one carefully recall 
the spiritual conditions he has passed through at 
each period of his life. Everyone will find that at 
each period of his life certain moral questions con- 
fronted him which he ought to solve, and on the 
solution of which the whole welfare of his life 
depended. For the solution of these questions great 
concentration of attention was needful. Such con- 
centration of attention is a labour. In every labour, 
especially at the beginning, there is a time when 
the work seems difficult and painful, and when 
human weakness prompts a desire to abandon it. 



WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 85 
Physical work seems painful at first; mental work 
still more so. As Lcssing says: people are inclined 
to cease to think at the point at which thought 
begins to be difficult; but it is just there, I would 
add, that thinking begins to be fruitful. A man 
feels that to decide the questions confronting him 
"needs labour often painful labour and he wishes 
to evade this. If he had no means of stupefying his 
faculties he could not expel from his consciousness 
the questions that confront him, and the necessity 
of solving them would be forced upon him. But 
man finds that there exists a means to drive off 
these questions whenever they present themselves 
and he uses it. As soon as the questions awaiting 
solution begin to torment him he has recourse to 
these means, and avoids the disquietude evoked 
by the troublesome questions. Consciousness ceases 
to demand their solution, and the unsolved ques- 
tions remain unsolved till his next period of en- 
lightenment. But when that period comes the 
same thing is repeated, and the man goes on for 
months, years, or even for his whole life, standing 
before those same moral questions and not moving 
a step towards their solution. Yet it is in the 
solution of moral questions that life's whole move- 
ment consists. 

What occurs is as if a man who needs to see to 
the bottom of some muddy water to obtain a 
precious pearl, but who dislikes entering the water, 
should stir it up each time it begins to settle and 
become clear. Many a man continues to stupefy 
himself all his life long, and remains immovable 
at the same once-accepted, obscure, self-contra- 
dictory view of life pressing, as each period of 
enlightenment approaches, ever at one and the 
same wall against which he pressed ten or twenty 
years ago, and which he cannot break through 



86 WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 
because he intentionally blunts that sharp point 
of thought which alone could pierce it. 

Let each man remember himself as he has been 
during the years of his drinking or smoking, and 
let him test the matter in his experience of other 
people, and everyone will see a definite constant 
line dividing those who are addicted to stupefiers 
from those who are free from them. The more a 
man stupefies himself the more he is morally 
immovable. 

VI 

Terrible, as they are described to us, are the 
consequences of opium and hashish on individuals; 
terrible, as we know them, are the consequences 
of alcohol to flagrant drunkards ; but incomparably 
more terrible to our whole society are the conse- 
quences of what is considered the harmless, moder- 
ate use of spirits, wine, beer, and tobacco, to which 
the majority of men, and especially our so-called 
cultured classes, are addicted. 

The consequences must naturally be terrible, 
admitting the fact, which must be admitted, that 
the guiding activities of society political, official, 
scientific, literary, and artistic are carried on for 
the most part by people in an abnormal state: by 
people who are drunk. 

It is generally supposed that a man who, like 
most people of our well-to-do classes, takes alco- 
holic drink almost every time he eats, is in a per- 
fectly normal and sober condition next day, during 
working hours. But this is quite an error. A man 
who drank a bottle of wine, a glass of spirits, or 
two glasses of ale, yesterday, is now in the usual 
state of drowsiness or depression which follows 
excitement, and is therefore in a condition of 
mental prostration, which is increased by smoking. 



WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 87 
For a man who habitually smokes and drinks in 
moderation, to bring his brain into a normal condi- 
tion would require at least a week or more of 
abstinence from wine and tobacco. But that hardly 
ever occurs. 1 

So that most of what goes on among us, whether 
'done by people who rule and teach others, or by 
those who are ruled and taught, is done when the 
doers are not sober. 

And let not this be taken as a joke or an exaggera- 
tion. The confusion, and above all the imbecility, 
of our lives, arises chiefly from the constant state of 
intoxication in which most people live. Could 
people who are not drunk possibly do all that is 
being done around us from building the Eiffel 
Tower to accepting military service? 

Without any need whatever, a company is 
formed, capital collected, men labour, make cal- 
culations, and draw plans; millions of working 
days and thousands of tons of iron are spent to 

1 But how is it that people who do not drink or smoke are 
often morally on an incomparably lower plane than others 
who drink and smoke? And why do people who drink and 
smoke often manifest very high qualities both mentally and 
morally? 

The answer is, first, that we do not know the height that 
those who drink and smoke would have attained had they not 
drunk and smoked. And secondly, from the fact that morally 
gifted people achieve great things in spite of the deteriorating 
effect of stupefying substances, we can but conclude that they 
would have produced yet greater things had they not 
stupefied themselves. It is very probable, as a friend remarked 
to me, that Kant's works would not have been written in 
such a curious and bad style had he not smoked so much. 
Lastly, the lower a man's mental and moral plane the less 
does he feel the discord between his conscience and his life, 
and therefore the less does he feel a craving to stupefy him- 
self; and on the other hand a parallel reason cxplainr. why 
the most sensitive natures those which immediately and 
morbidly feel the discord between life and conscience sex 
often indulge in narcotics and perish by them. L. T. 



88 WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 

build a tower; and millions of people consider it 
their duty to climb up it, stop awhile on it, and 
then climb down again; and the building and 
visiting of this tower evoke no other reflection than 
a wish and intention to build other towers, in other 
places, still bigger. Could sober people act like 
that ? Or take another case. For dozens of years 
past all the European peoples have been busy 
devising the very best ways of killing people, and 
teaching as many young men as possible, as soon 
as they reach manhood, how to murder. Everyone 
knows that there can be no invasion by barbarians, 
but that these preparations made by the different 
civilized and Christian nations are directed against 
one another; everyone knows that this is burden- 
some, painful, inconvenient, ruinous, immoral, 
impious, and irrational but everyone continues 
to prepare for mutual murder. Some devise 
political combinations to decide who is to kill 
whom and with what allies, others direct those who 
are being taught to murder, and others again yield 
against their will, against their conscience, 
against their reason to these preparations for 
murder. Could sober people do these things ? Only 
drunkards who never reach a state of sobriety could 
do them and live on in the horrible state of discord 
between life and conscience in which, not only in 
this but in all other respects, the people of our 
society are now living. 

Never before, I suppose, have people lived with 
the demands of their conscience so evidently in 
contradiction to their actions. 

Humanity to-day has as it were stuck fast. It 
is as though some external cause hindered it from 
occupying a position in natural accord with its 
perceptions. And the cause if not the only one, 
then certainly the greatest is this physical condi- 



WHY DO MEN STUPEFY THEMSELVES? 89 
tion of stupefaction induced by wine and tobacco 
to which the great majority of people in our society 
reduce themselves. 

Emancipation from this teirible evil will be an 
epoch in the life of humanity; and that epoch seems 
to be at hand. The evil is recognized. An altera- 
tion has already taken place in our perception 
concerning the use of stupefying substances. People 
have understood the terrible harm of these things 
and are beginning to point them out, and this 
almost unnoticed alteration in perception \\ill 
inevitably bring about the emancipation of men 
from the use of stupefying things will enable them 
to open their eyes to the demands of their con- 
sciences, and they will begin to order their lives in 
accord with their perceptions. 

And this seems to be already beginning. But 
as always it is beginning among the upper classes 
only after all the lower classes have already been 
infected. 

[June 10, o.s., 1890.] 

The above essay was written by Leo Tolstoy as a 
preface to a book on Drunkenness written by my brother- 
in-law, Dr. P. S. Alexeyev. A. M. 



THE FIRST STEP 
I 

IF a man is working in order to accomplish what- 
ever he has in hand and not merely making a 
pretence of work, his actions will necessarily follow 
one another in a certain sequence determined by 
the nature of the work. If he postpones to a later 
time what from the nature of the work should be 
done first, or if he altogether omits some essential 
part, he is certainly not working seriously but only 
pretending. This rule holds unalterably true 
whether the work be physical or not. As a man 
seriously wishing to bake bread first kneads the 
flour and then heats the brick-oven, sweeps out 
the ashes, and so on, so also a man seriously 
wishing to lead a good life adopts a certain order 
of succession in the attainment of the necessary 
qualities. 

This rule is especially important in regard to 
right living; for whereas in the case of physical 
work, such as making bread, it is easy to discover 
by the result whether a man is seriously engaged 
in work or only pretending, no such verification is 
possible in regard to goodness of life. If without 
kneading the dough or heating the oven people 
merely pretend to make bread as they do in the 
theatre then the absence of bread makes it 
obvious that they were only pretending; but when 
a man pretends to be leading a good life we have 
no such direct indications that he is not striving 
seriously but only pretending, for not only are the 
results of a good life not always evident and pal- 
pable to those around, but very often such results 
even appear to them harmful. Respect for a man's 
activity and the acknowledgement of its utility and 



THE FIRST STEP 91 

pleasantness by his contemporaries, furnish no 
proof of the real goodness of his life. 

Therefore, to distinguish the reality from the 
mere appearance of a good life, the indication 
given by a regular order of succession in the acquire- 
ment of the essential qualities is especially valuable. 
And this indication is valuable, not so much to 
enable us to discover the seriousness of other men's 
strivings after goodness as to test this sincerity in 
ourselves, for in this respect we are liable to deceive 
ourselves even more than we deceive others. 

A correct order of succession in the attainment 
of virtues is an indispensable condition of advance 
towards a good life, and consequently the teachers 
of mankind have always prescribed a certain in- 
variable order for their attainment. 

All moral teachings set up that ladder which, as 
the Chinese wisdom has it, reaches from earth to 
heaven, and the ascent of which can only be ac- 
complished by starting from the lowest step. As 
in the teaching of the Brahmins, Buddhists, Con- 
fucians, so also in the teaching of the Greek sages, 
steps were fixed, and a superior step could not 
be attained without the lower one having been 
previously taken. All the moral teachers of man- 
kind, religious and non-religious alike, have ad- 
mitted the necessity of a definite order of succession 
in the attainment of the qualities essential to a 
righteous life. The necessity for this sequence lies 
in the very essence of things, and therefore, it 
would seem, ought to be recognized by everyone. 

But, strange to say, from the time Church- 
Christianity spread widely, the consciousness of 
this necessary order appears to have been more 
and more lost, and is now retained only among 
ascetics and monks. Among worldly Christians it 
is taken for granted that the higher virtues may 



92 THE FIRST STEP 

be attained not only in the absence of the lower 
ones, which are a necessary condition of the higher, 
but even in company with the greatest vices; and 
consequently the very conception of what con- 
stitutes a good life has reached a state of the greatest 
confusion in the minds of the majority of worldly 
people to-day. 

II 

In our times people have quite lost conscious- 
ness of the necessity of a sequence in the qualities 
a man must have to enable him to live a good life, 
and in consequence have lost the very conception 
of what constitutes a good life. This it seems to 
me has come about in the following way. 

When Christianity replaced paganism it put 
forth moral demands superior to the heathen ones, 
and at the same time (as was also the case with 
pagan morality) it necessarily laid down an in- 
dispensable order for the attainment of virtues 
certain steps to the attainment of a righteous life. 

Plato's virtues, beginning with self-control, ad- 
vanced through courage and wisdom to justice; 
the Christian virtues, commencing with self- 
renunciation, rise, through devotion to the will of 
God, to love. 

Those who accepted Christianity seriously and 
strove to live righteous Christian lives, understood 
Christianity in this way, and always began living 
rightly by renouncing their lusts; which renuncia- 
tion included the self-control of the pagans. 

But let it not be supposed that Christianity in 
this matter was only echoing the teachings of 
paganism; let me not be accused of degrading 
Christianity from its lofty place to the level of 
heathenism. Such an accusation would be unjust, 
for I regard the Christian teaching as the highest 



THE FIRST STEP 93 

the world has known, and as quite different from 
heathenism. Christian teaching replaced pagan 
teaching simply because the former was different 
from and superior to the latter. But both Christian 
and pagan teaching alike lead men toward truth 
and goodness; and as these are always the same, 
the way to them must also be the same, and the 
first steps on this way must inevitably be the same 
for Christian as for heathen. 

The difference between the Christian and pagan 
teaching of goodness lies in this : that the heathen 
teaching is one of final perfection, while the 
Christian is one of infinite perfecting. Every 
heathen, non-Christian, teaching sets before men 
a model of final perfection; but the Christian 
teaching sets before them a model of infinite per- 
fection. Plato, for instance, makes justice the 
model of perfection, whereas Christ's model is 
the infinite perfection of love. ''Be ye perfect, even 
as your Father in heaven is perfect* In this lies the 
difference, and from this results the different 
relation of pagan and Christian teaching towards 
different grades of virtue. According to the former 
the attainment of the highest virtue was possible, 
and each step towards this attainment had its com- 
parative merit the higher the step the greater the 
merit; so that from the pagan point of view men 
may be divided into moral and immoral, into more 
or less immoral whereas according to the Chris- 
tian teaching, which sets up the ideal of infinite 
perfection, this division is impossible. There can 
be neither higher nor lower grades. In the Chris- 
tian teaching, which shows the infinity of perfec- 
tion, all steps are equal in relation to the infinite 
ideal. 

Among the pagans the plane of virtue attained 
by a man constituted his merit; in Christianity 



94 THE FIRST STEP 

merit consists only in the process of attaining, in 
the greater or lesser speed of attainment. From the 
pagan point of view a man who possessed the virtue 
of reasonableness stood morally higher than one 
deficient in that virtue, a man who in addition to 
reasonableness possessed courage stood higher still, 
a man who to reasonableness and courage added 
justice stood yet higher. But one Christian cannot 
be regarded as morally either higher or lower than 
another. A man is more or less of a Christian only 
in proportion to the speed with which he advances 
towards infinite perfection, irrespective of the stage 
he may have reached at a given moment. Hence 
the stationary righteousness of the Pharisee was 
worth less than the progress of the repentant thief 
on the cross. 

Such is the difference between the Christian and 
the pagan teachings. Consequently the stages of 
virtue, as for instance self-control and courage, 
which in paganism constitute merit, constitute none 
whatever in Christianity. In this respect the 
teachings differ. But with regard to the fact that 
there can be no advance towards virtue, towards 
perfection, except by mounting the lowest steps, 
paganism and Christianity are alike : here there can 
be no difference. 

The Christian, like the pagan, must commence 
the work of perfecting himself from the beginning 
at the same step at which the heathen begins it, 
namely, self-control; just as a man who wishes to 
ascend a flight of stairs cannot avoid beginning 
at the first step. The only difference is that for the 
pagan, self-control itself constitutes a virtue; where- 
as for the Christian it is only part of that self- 
abnegation which is itself but an indispensable 
condition of all aspiration after perfection. There- 
fore the manifestation of true Christianity could not 



THE FIRST STEP 95 

but follow the same path that had been indicated 
and followed by paganism. 

But not all men have understood Christianity as 
an aspiration towards the perfection of the heavenly 
Father. The majority of people have regarded it 
as a teaching about salvation that is, deliverance 
from sin by grace transmitted through the Church 
according to the Catholics and Greek Orthodox; 
by faith in the Redemption according to the 
Protestants, the Reformed Church, and the Cal- 
vinists; or by means of the two combined according 
to others. 

And it is precisely this teaching that has 
destroyed the sincerity and seriousness of men's 
relation to the moral teaching of Christianity. 
However much the representatives of these faiths 
may preach that these means of salvation do not 
hinder man in his aspiration after a righteous life 
but on the contrary contribute towards it still, 
from certain assertions certain deductions neces- 
sarily follow, and no arguments can prevent men 
from making these deductions when once they have 
accepted the assertions from which they flow. If 
a man believes that he can be saved through grace 
transmitted by the Church, or through the sacrifice 
of the Redemption, it is natural for him to think 
that efforts of his own to live a right life are un- 
necessary the more so when he is told that even 
the hope that his efforts will make him better is a 
sin. Consequently a man who believes that there are 
means other than personal effort by which he may 
escape sin or its results, cannot strive with the 
same energy and seriousness as the man who knows 
no other means. And not striving with perfect 
seriousness, and knowing of other means besides 
personal effort, a man will inevitably neglect the 
unalterable order of succession for the attainment 



q6 THE FIRST STEP 

of the good qualities necessary to a good life. And 
this has happened with the majority of those who 
profess Christianity. 

Ill 

The doctrine that personal effort is not necessary 
for the attainment of spiritual perfection by man, 
but that there are other means of acquiring it, 
caused a relaxation of efforts to live a good life 
and a neglect of the consecutiveness indispensable 
for such a life. 

The great mass of those who accepted Chris- 
tianity, accepting it only externally, took advantage 
of the substitution of Christianity for paganism to 
free themselves from the demands of the heathen 
virtues no longer imposed on them as Christians 
and to free themselves from all conflict with their 
animal nature. 

The same thing happens with those who cease 
to believe in the teaching of the Church. They are 
like the believers just mentioned, only instead of 
grace bestowed by the Church or through Re- 
demption they put forward some imaginary good 
work approved of by the majority of men, such 
as the service of science, art, or humanity; and 
in the name of this imaginary good work they 
liberate themselves from the consecutive attain- 
ment of the qualities necessary for a good life, and 
are satisfied with pretending, like men on the 
stage, to live a good life. 

Those who fell away from paganism without 
embracing Christianity in its true significance, 
began to preach love for God and man apart from 
self-renunciation, and justice without self-control; 
that is to say, they preached the higher virtues 
while omitting the lower ones: they preached not 
the virtues themselves, but their semblance. 



THE FIRST STEP $7 

Some preach love of God and man without self- 
renunciation, and others preach humaneness the 
service of humanity without self-control. And as 
this teaching, while pretending to introduce man 
into higher moral regions, encourages his animal 
nature by liberating him from the most elementary 
demands of morality long ago acknowledged by 
the heathens and not only not rejected but 
strengthened by true Christianity it was readily 
accepted both by believers and unbelievers. 

Only the other day the Pope's Encyclical 1 on 
Socialism was published, in which, after a pre- 
tended refutation of the Socialist view of the 
wrongfulness of private property, it wis plainly 
said: 'No one is commanded to distribute to others that 
which is required for his own necessities find those of his 
household ; nor even to give away what is reasonably re- 
quired to keep up becomingly his condition in life ; for no 
one ought to live unbecomingly.' (This is from St. 
Thomas Aquinas, who says, Nullus enim mcon- 
renienter vivere debet.) 'But when necessity has been 
fairly supplied, and one* s position fairly considered, it is 
a duty to give to the indigent out of that which is over. 
That which remaincth give alms.' 

Thus now preaches the head of the most wide- 
spread Church. Thus have preached all the 
Church teachers who considered salvation by 
works as insufficient. And together with this 
teaching of selfishness, which prescribes that you 
shall give to your neighbours only what you do not 
want yourself, they preach love, and recall with 
pathos Paul's celebrated words about love in the 
thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the 
Corinthians. 

1 This refers to the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII. In the 
passage quoted the official English translation of the Ency- 
clical has been followed. See the Tablet, 1891. A. M. 

459 



c# THE FIRST STEP 

Notwithstanding that the Gospels overflow with 
demands for self-renunciation, with indications that 
self-renunciation is the first condition of Christian 
perfection; notwithstanding such clear expressions 
as: 'Whosoever will not take up his cross . . .' 
'Whosoever hath not forsaken father and mother 
. . .' 'Whosoever shall lose his life . . .' people 
assure themselves and others that it is possible to 
love men without renouncing that to which one is 
accustomed, or even what one pleases to consider 
becoming for oneself. 

So speak the Church people; and Freethinkers 
who reject not only the Church but also the 
Christian teaching, think, speak, write, and act, 
in just the same way. These men assure themselves 
and others that they can serve mankind and lead 
a good life without in the least diminishing their 
needs and without overcoming their lusts. 

Men have thrown aside the pagan sequence of 
virtues ; but, not assimilating the Christian teaching 
in its true significance, they have not accepted the 
Christian sequence and are left quite without 
guidance. 

IV 

In olden times, when there was no Christian 
teaching, all the teachers of life, beginning with 
Socrates, regarded self-control cyKpdrcia or aw 
</>poavvr) as the first virtue of life; and it was 
understood that every virtue must begin with and 
pass through this one. It was clear that a man who 
had no self-control, who had developed an im- 
mense number of desires and had yielded himself 
up to them, could not lead a good life. It was 
evident that before a man could even think of dis- 
interestedness and justice to say nothing of 
generosity or love he must learn to exercise con- 



THE FIRST STEP 99 

trol over himself. According to our present ideas 
nothing of the sort is necessary. We are convinced 
that a man who has developed his desires to the 
climax reached in our society, a man who cannot 
live without satisfying the hundred unnecessary 
habits that enslave him, can yet lead an altogether 
moral and good life. Looked at from any point of 
view: the lowest, utilitarian; the higher, pagan, 
which demands justice; and especially the highest, 
Christian, which demands love it should surely 
be clear to everyone that a man who uses for his 
own pleasure (which he might easily forgo) the 
labour, often the painful labour, of others, behaves 
wrongly; and that this is the very first wrong he 
must cease to commit if he wishes to live a good life. 

From the utilitarian point of view such conduct 
is bad, because as long as he forces others to work 
for him a man is always in an unstable position ; he 
accustoms himself to the satisfaction of his desires 
and becomes enslaved by them, while those who 
work for him do so with hatred and envy and only 
await an opportunity to free themselves from the 
necessity of so working. Consequently such a man 
is always in danger of being left with deeply rooted 
habits which create demands he cannot satisfy. 

From the point of view of justice such conduct is 
bad, because it is not well to employ for one's own 
pleasure the labour of other men who themselves 
cannot afford a hundredth part of the pleasures 
enjoyed by him for whom they labour. 

From the point of view of Christian love it can 
hardly be necessary to prove that a man who loves 
others will give them his own labour rather than 
take the fruit of their labour from them for his own 
pleasure. 

But these demands of utility, justice, and love, 
are altogether ignored by our modern society. With 



i<x> THE FIRST STEP 

us the effort to limit our desires is regarded as 
neither the first nor even the last condition of a 
good life, but as altogether unnecessary. 

On the contrary, according to the prevailing and 
most widely spread teaching of life to-day, the aug- 
mentation of one's wants is regarded as a desirable 
condition; as a sign of development, civilization, 
culture, and perfection. So-called educated people 
regard habits of comfort, that is, of effeminacy, as 
not only harmless but even good, indicating a 
certain moral elevation as almost a virtue. 

It is thought that the more the wants, and the 
more refined these wants, the better. 

This is shown very ckarly by the descriptive 
poetry, and even more so by the novels, of the last 
two centuries. 

How are the heroes and heroines who represent 
the ideals of virtue portrayed ? 

In most cases the men who are meant to represent 
something noble and lofty from Childe Harold 
down to the latest heroes of Feuillet, Trollope, or 
Maupassant are simply depraved sluggards, con- 
suming in luxury the labour of thousands, and them- 
selves doing nothing useful for anybody. The 
heroines the mistresses who in one way or an- 
other afford more or less delight to these men are 
as idle as they, and are equally ready to consume 
the labour of others by their luxury. 

I do not refer to the representations of really 
abstemious and industrious people one occasionally 
meets with in literature. I am speaking of the 
usual type that serves as an ideal to the masses : of 
the character that the majority of men and women 
are trying to resemble. I remember the difficulty 
(inexplicable to me at the time) that I experienced 
when I wrote novels, a difficulty with which I 
contended and with which I know all novelists 



THE FIRST STEP H>I 

now contend who have even the dimmest concep- 
tion of what constitutes real moral beauty the 
difficulty of portraying a type taken from the upper 
classes as ideally good and kind, and at the same 
time true to life. To be true to life, a description 
of a man or woman of the upper, educated classes 
must show him in his usual surroundings that is, 
in luxury, physical idleness, and demanding much. 
From a moral point of view such a person is un- 
doubtedly objectionable. But it is necessary to 
represent this person in such a way that he may 
appear attractive. And novelists try to do so. I 
also tried. And, strange to say, such a representa- 
tion, making an immoral fornicator and murderer 
(duellist or soldier), an utterly useless, idly drifting, 
fashionable buffoon, appear attractive, does not 
require much art or effort. The readers of novels 
are for the most part exactly such men, and 
therefore readily believe that these Childe Harolds, 
Onegins, Messieurs de Gamors, 1 &c., are very 
excellent people. 

V 

Clear proof that the men of our time really do 
not admit pagan self-control and Christian self- 
renunciation to be good and desirable qualities, 
but on the contrary regard the augmentation of 
wants as good and elevated, is to be found in the 
education given to the vast majority of children 
in our society. Not only are they not trained to 
self-control, as among the pagans, or to the self- 
renunciation proper to Christians, but they are 
deliberately inoculated with habits of effeminacy, 
physical idleness, and luxury. 

On^gin is the hero of a famous Russian poem by Pushkin. 
M. de Camors is the hero of a French novel by Octave 
Fruillet. A. M. 



10* THE FIRST STEP 

I have long wished to write a fairy-tale of this 
kind: A woman, wishing to revenge herself on 
one who has injured her, carries off her enemy's 
child, and going to a sorcerer asks him to teach 
her how she can most cruelly wreak her vengeance 
on the stolen infant, the only child of her enemy. 
The sorcerer bids her carry the child to a place 
he indicates, and assures her that a most terrible 
vengeance will result. The wicked woman follows 
his advice; but, keeping an eye upon the child, is 
astonished to see that it is found and adopted by a 
wealthy, childless man. She goes to the sorcerer 
and reproaches him, but he bids her wait. The 
child grows up in luxury and effeminacy. The 
woman is perplexed, but again the sorcerer bids 
her wait. And at length the time comes when the 
wicked woman is not only satisfied but has even 
to pity her victim. He grows up in the effeminacy 
and dissoluteness of wealth, and owing to his good 
nature is ruined. Then begins a sequence of 
physical sufferings, poverty, and humiliation, to 
which he is especially sensitive and against \vhich 
he knows not how to contend. Aspirations towards 
a moral life and the weakness of his effeminate 
body accustomed to luxury and idleness; vain 
struggles; lower and still lower decline; drunken- 
ness to drown thought, then crime and insanity or 
suicide. 

And, indeed, one cannot regard without terror 
the education of the children of the wealthy class 
in our day. Only the cruellest foe could, one would 
think, inoculate a child with those defects and vices 
which are now instilled into him by his parents, 
especially by mothers. One is awestruck at the 
sight, and still more at the results of this, if only 
one knows how to discern what is taking place in 
the souls of the best of these children, so carefully 



THE FIRST STEP 103 

ruined by their parents. Habits of effeminacy are 
instilled into them at a time when they do not yet 
understand their moral significance. Not only is 
the habit of temperance and self-control neglected, 
but, contrary to the educational practice of Sparta 
and of the ancient world in general, this quality 
is altogether atrophied. Not only is man not 
trained to work, and to all the qualities essential to 
fruitful labour concentration of mind, strenuous- 
ness, endurance, enthusiasm for work, ability to 
repair what is spoiled, familiarity with fatigue, joy 
in attainment but he is habituated to idleness and 
to contempt for all the products of labour: is 
taught to spoil, throw away, and again procure 
for money anything he fancies, without a thought 
of how things are made. Man is deprived of the 
power of acquiring the primary virtue of reasonable- 
ness, indispensable for the attainment of all the 
others, and is let loose in a world where people 
preach and praise the lofty virtues of justice, the 
service of man, and love. 

It is well if the youth be endowed with a morally 
feeble and obtuse nature, which does not detect 
the difference between make-believe and genuine 
goodness of life, and is satisfied with the prevailing 
mutual deception. If this be the case all goes 
apparently well, and such a man will sometimes 
quietly live on with his moral consciousness un- 
awakened till death. 

But it is not always thus, especially of late, now 
that the consciousness of the immorality of such 
life fills the air and penetrates the heart unsought. 
Frequently, and ever more frequently, it happens 
that there awakens a demand for real, unfeigned 
morality; and then begin a painful inner struggle 
and suffering which end but rarely in the triumph 
of the moral sentiment. 



104 THE FIRST STEP 

A man feels that his life is bad, that he must 
reform it from the very roots, and he tries to do so ; 
but he is then attacked on all sides by those who 
have passed through a similar struggle and have 
been vanquished. They endeavour by every means 
to convince him that this reform is quite unneces- 
sary: that goodness does not at all depend upon 
self-control and self-renunciation, that it is possible 
while addicting himself to gluttony, personal adorn- 
ment, physical idleness, and even fornication, to 
be a perfectly good and useful man. And the 
struggle in most cases terminates lamentably. 
Either the man, overcome by his weakness, yields 
to the general opinion, stifles the voice of conscience, 
distorts his reason to justify himself, and continues 
to lead the old dissipated life, assuring himself that 
it is redeemed by faith in the Redemption or the 
Sacraments, or by service to science, to the State, 
or to art; or else he struggles, suffers, and finally 
becomes insane or shoots himself. 

It seldom happens, amid all the temptations that 
surround him, that a man of our society under- 
stands what was thousands of years ago, and still is, 
an elementary truth for all reasonable people: 
namely, that for the attainment of a good life it is 
necessary first of all to cease to live an evil life ; 
that for the attainment of the higher virtues it is 
needful first of all to acquire the virtue of abstinence 
or self-control as the pagans called it, or of self- 
renunciation as Christianity has it, and therefore 
it seldom happens that he succeeds in attaining this 
primary virtue by gradual efforts. 

VI 

I have just been reading the letters of one of our 
highly educated and advanced men of the eigh teen- 
forties, the exile Ogaryev, to another yet more 



THE FIRST STEP 105 

highly educated and gifted man, Herzen. In these 
letters Ogaryev gives expression to his sincere 
thoughts and highest aspirations, and one cannot 
fail to see that as was natural to a young man he 
rather shows off before his friend. He talks of self- 
perfecting, of sacred friendship, love, the service 
of science, of humanity, and the like. And at the 
same time he calmly writes that he often Irritates 
the companion of his life by 'returning home in 
an unsober state, or disappearing for many hours 
with a fallen, but dear creature. . . .' as he ex- 
presses it. 

Evidently it never even occurred to this remark- 
ably kind-hearted, talented, and well-educated 
man that there was anything at all objectionable 
in the fact that he, a married man awaiting the 
confinement of his wife (in his next letter he writes 
that his wife has given birth to a child), returned 
home intoxicated and disappeared with dissolute 
women. It did not enter his head that until he 
had commenced the struggle and had at least to 
some extent conquered his inclination to drunken- 
ness and fornication, he could not think of friend- 
ship and love and still less of serving anyone or 
anything. But he not only did not struggle against 
these vices he evidently thought there was some- 
thing very nice in them, and that they did not in 
the least hinder the struggle for perfection; and 
therefore instead of hiding them from the friend 
in whose eyes he wishes to appear in a good light, 
he exhibits them. 

Thus it was half a century ago. I was contem- 
porary with such men. I knew Ogaryev and Her- 
zen themselves, and others of that stamp, and men 
educated in the same traditions. There was a 
remarkable absence of consistency in the lives of 
all these men. Together with a sincere and ardent 



106 THE FIRST STEP 

wish for good there was an utter looseness of 
personal desire, which they thought could not 
hinder the living of a good life nor the performance 
of good and even great deeds. They put unkneaded 
loaves into a cold oven and believed that bread 
would be baked. And then, when with advancing 
years they began to notice that the bread did not 
bake i.e. that no good came of their lives they 
saw in this something peculiarly tragic. 

And the tragedy of such lives is indeed terrible. 
And this same tragedy apparent in the lives of 
Herzen, Ogaryev, and others of their time, exists 
to-day in the lives of very many so-called educated 
people who hold the same views. A man desires 
to lead a good life, but the consecutivencss which 
is indispensable for this is lost in the society in 
which he lives. The majority of men of the present 
day, like Ogaryev, Herzen and others fifty years 
ago, are persuaded that to lead an effeminate life, 
to eat sweet and rich foods, to delight themselves 
in every way and satisfy all their desires, does not 
hinder them from living a good life. But as it is 
evident that a good life in their case does not result, 
they give themselves up to pessimism, and say, 
'Such is the tragedy of human life.' 

It is strange too that these people, who know that 
the distribution of pleasures among men is unequal 
and regard this inequality as an evil and wish to 
correct it, yet do not cease to strive to augment 
their own pleasures that is, to augment inequality 
in the distribution of pleasures. In acting thus, 
these people are like men who being the first to 
enter an orchard hasten to gather all the fruit they 
can lay their hands on, and while professing a wish 
to organize a more equal distribution of the fruit 
of the orchard between themselves and later 
comers, continue to pluck all they can reach. 



THE FIRST STEP 107 

VII 

The delusion that men while addicting them- 
selves to their desires and regarding this life of 
desire as good, can yet lead a good, useful, just, and 
loving life, is so astonishing that men of later 
generations will, I should think, simply fail to 
understand what the men of our time meant by 
the words 'good life', when they said that the 
gluttons the effeminate, lustful sluggards of our 
wealthy classes led good lives. Indeed, one need 
only put aside for a moment the customary view 
of the life of our wealthy classes, and look at it, I do 
not say from the Christian point of view, but from 
the pagan standpoint, from the standpoint of the 
very lowest demands of justice, to be convinced 
that, living amidst the violation of the plainest laws 
of justice or fairness, such as even children in their 
games think it wrong to violate, we men of the 
wealthy classes have no right even to talk about 
a good life. 

Any man of our society who would, I do not 
say begin a good life but even begin to make some 
little approach towards it, must first of all cease 
to lead a bad life, must begin to destroy those 
conditions of an evil life with which he finds himself 
surrounded. 

How often one hears, as an excuse for not 
reforming our lives, the argument that any act that 
is contrary to the usual mode of life would be 
unnatural, ludicrous would look like a desire to 
show off, and would therefore not be a good action. 
This argument seems expressly framed to prevent 
people from ever changing their evil lives. If all 
our life were good, just, kind, then and only then 
would an action in conformity with the usual mode 
of life be good. If half our life were good and the 



io8 THE FIRST STEP 

other half bad, then there would be as much chance 
of an action not in conformity with the usual mode 
of life being good as of its being bad. But when life 
is altogether bad and wrong, as is the case in our 
upper classes, then a man cannot perform a single 
good action without disturbing the usual current 
of life. He can do a bad action without disturbing 
this current, but not a good one. 

A man accustomed to the life of our well-to-do 
classes cannot lead a righteous life without first 
coming out of those conditions of evil in which he 
is immersed he cannot begin to do good until he 
has ceased to do evil. It is impossible for a man 
living in luxury to lead a righteous life. All his 
efforts after goodness will be in vain until he 
changes his life, until he performs that work which 
stands first in sequence before him. A good life 
according to the pagan view, and still more 
according to the Christian view, is, and can be, 
measured in no other way than by the mathematical 
relation between love of self and love of others. 
The less there is of love of self with all the ensuing 
care about self and the selfish demands made upon 
the labour of others, and the more there is of love 
of others with the resultant care for and labour 
bestowed upon others, the better is the life. 

Thus has goodness of life been understood by all 
the sages of the world and by all true Christians, 
and in exactly the same way do all plain men 
understand it now. The more a man gives to 
others and the less he demands for himself, the 
better he is: the less he gives to others and the 
more he demands for himself, the worse he is. 

And not only does a man become morally better 
the more love he has for others and the less for 
himself, but the less he loves himself the easier it 
becomes for him to be better, and contrariwise. 



THE FIRST STEP 109 

The more a man loves himself, and consequently 
the more he demands labour from others, the less 
possibility is there for him to love and to work for 
others; less not only by as much as the increase 
of his love for himself, but less in an enormously 
greater degree just as when we move the fulcrum 
of a lever from the long end towards the short end, 
we not only increase the long arm but also reduce 
the short one. Therefore if a man possessing a 
certain faculty (love) augments his love and care 
for himself, he thereby diminishes his power of 
loving and caring for others not only in proportion 
to the love he has transferred to himself but in 
a much greater degree. Instead of feeding others 
a man eats too much himself; by so doing he not 
only diminishes the possibility of giving away the 
surplus, but by overeating deprives himself of 
power to help others. 

In order to love others in reality and not in word 
only, one must cease to love oneself also in reality 
and not merely in word. In most cases it happens 
thus: we think we love others, we assure ourselves 
and others that it is so, but we love them only in 
words while we love ourselves in reality. We forget 
to feed and put others to bed, ourselves never. 
Therefore, in order really to love others in deed, we 
must learn not to love ourselves in deed, learn to 
forget to feed ourselves and put ourselves to bed, 
exactly as we forget to do these things for others. 

We say of a self-indulgent person accustomed to 
lead a luxurious life, that he is a 'good man' and 
'leads a good life'. But such a person whether 
man or woman although he may possess the most 
amiable traits of character, meekness, good nature, 
&c., cannot be good and lead a good life, anymore 
than a knife of the very best workmanship and steel 
can be sharp and cut well unless it is sharpened. 



no THE FIRST STEP 

To be good and lead a good life means to give to 
others more than one takes from them. But a self- 
indulgent man accustomed to a luxurious life 
cannot do this, first because he himself always 
needs a great deal (and this not because he is selfish, 
but because he is accustomed to luxury and finds 
it painful to be deprived of that to which he is 
accustomed) ; and secondly, because by consuming 
all that he receives from others he weakens himself 
and renders himself unfit for labour, and therefore 
unfit to serve others. A self-indulgent man who 
sleeps long upon a soft bed and consumes an 
abundance of rich, sweet food, who always wears 
clean clothes and such as are suited to the tem- 
perature, who has never accustomed himself to 
the effort of laborious work, can do very little. 

We are so accustomed to our own lies and the lies 
of others, and it is so convenient for us not to see 
through the lies of others that they may not see 
through ours, that we are not in the least astonished 
at, and do not doubt the truth of, the assertion of 
the virtue, sometimes even the sanctity, of people 
who are leading a perfectly unrestrained life. 

A person, man or woman, sleeps on a spring 
bed with two mattresses, two smooth clean sheets, 
and feather pillows in pillow-cases. By the bedside 
is a rug that the feet may not get cold on stepping 
out of bed, though slippers also lie near. Here also 
are the necessary utensils so that he need not leave 
the house whatever uncleanliness he may produce 
will be carried away and all made tidy. The 
windows are covered with curtains that the day- 
light may not awaken him, and he sleeps as long 
as he is inclined. Besides all this, measures are 
taken that the room may be warm in winter and 
cool in summer, and that he may not be disturbed 
by the noise of flies or other insects. While he 



THE FIRST STEP in 

sleeps hot and cold water for his ablutions, and 
sometimes baths and preparations for shaving, are 
provided. Tea and coffee are also prepared, 
stimulating drinks to be taken immediately upon 
rising. Boots, shoes, galoshes several pairs dirtied 
the previous day are already being cleaned, 
freed from every speck of dust, and made to shine 
like glass. Other various garments soiled on the 
preceding day are similarly cleaned, and these 
differ in texture to suit not only summer and winter, 
but also spring, autumn, rainy, damp, and warm 
weather. Clean linen, washed, starched, and 
ironed, is being made ready, with studs, shirt but- 
tons, and button-holes, all carefully inspected by 
specially appointed people. 

If the person be active he rises early at seven 
o'clock but still a couple of hours later than those 
who are making all these preparations for him. 
And besides clothes for the day and covering for 
the ni^ht there is also a special costume and foot- 
gear for him while he is dressing dressing-gown 
and slippers. And now he undertakes his washing, 
cleaning, brushing, for which several kinds of 
brushes are used as well as soap and a great 
quantity of water. (Many English men and 
women, for some reason or other, are specially 
proud of using a great deal of soap and pouring 
a large quantity of water over themselves.) Then 
he dresses, brushes his hair before a special kind 
of looking-glass (different from those that hang in 
almost every room in the house), takes the things 
he needs, such as spectacles or eyeglasses, and then 
distributes in different pockets a clean pocket- 
handkerchief to blow his nose on; a watch with 
a chain, though in almost every room he goes to 
there will be a clock; money of various kinds, small 
change (often in a specially contrived case which 



ii2 THE FIRST STEP 

saves him the trouble of looking for the required 
coin) and bank-no'es; also visiting cards on which 
his name is printed (saving him the trouble of 
saying or writing it) ; pocket-book and pencil. In 
the case of women, the toilet is still more compli- 
cated : corsets, arranging of long hair, adornments, 
laces, elastics, ribbons, ties, hairpins, pins, brooches. 

But at last all is complete and the day commences, 
generally with eating: tea and coffee are drunk 
with a great quantity of sugar; bread made of the 
finest white flour is eaten with large quantities of 
butter, and sometimes the flesh of pigs. The men 
for the most part smoke cigars or cigarettes mean- 
while, and read fresh papers which have just been 
brought. Then, leaving to others the task of setting 
right the soiled and disordered room, they go to 
their office or business, or drive in carriages pro- 
duced specially to move such people about. Then 
comes a luncheon of slain beasts, birds, and fish, 
followed by a dinner consisting, if it be very 
modest, of three courses, dessert, and coffee. Then 
playing at cards and playing music or the theatre, 
reading, and conversation in soft spring arm- 
chairs by the intensified and shaded light of 
candles, gas, or electricity. After this, more tea, 
more eating supper and to bed again, the bed 
shaken up and prepared with clean linen, and 
the utensils washed to be made foul again. 

Thus pass the days of a man of modest life, of 
whom, if he is good-natured and does not possess 
any habits specially obnoxious to those about him, 
it is said that he leads a good and virtuous life. 

But a good life is the life of a man who does good 
to others; and can a man accustomed to live thus 
do good to others? Before he can do good to men 
he must cease to do evil. Reckon up all the harm 
such a man, often unconsciously, does to others, 



THE FIRST STEP 1 13 

and you will see that he is far indeed from doing; 
good. He would have to perform many acts ot 
heroism to redeem the evil he commits, but he is 
too much enfeebled by his self-created needs to 
perform any such acts. He might sleep with more 
advantage, both physical and moral, lying on the 
floor wrapped in his cloak as Marcus Aurclius did ; 
thus saving all the labour and trouble involved in 
the manufacture of mattresses, springs, and pillows, 
as well as the daily labour of the laundress one 
of the weaker sex burdened by the bearing and 
nursing of children who washes linen for this 
strong man. By going to bed earlier and getting 
up earlier he might save window-curtains and the 
evening lamp. He might sleep in the same shirt 
he wears during the day, might step barefooted 
upon the floor, and go out into the yard ; he might 
\\ash at the pump. In a word, he might live like 
those who work for him, and thus save all this work 
that is done for him. He might save all the labour 
expended upon his clothing, his refined food, his 
recreations. And he knows under what conditions 
all these labours are performed: how men perish 
and suffer in performing them, and how they often 
hate those who take advantage of their poverty 
to force them to do it. 

How then can such a man do good to others 
and lead a righteous life, without abandoning this 
self-indulgence and luxury? 

But we need not speak of how other people 
appear in our eyes every one must see and feel 
this concerning himself. 

I cannot but repeat this same thing again and 
again, notwithstanding the cold and hostile silence 
with which my words are received. A moral man, 
living a life of comfort, a man even of the middle 
class (I will not speak of the upper classes, who 



114 THE FIRST STEP 

daily consume the results of hundreds of working 
days to satisfy their caprices), cannot live quietly, 
knowing that all he is using is produced by the 
labour of working people whose lives are crushed, 
who are dying without hope ignorant, drunken, 
dissolute, semi-savage creatures employed in mines, 
factories, and in agricultural labour, producing the 
things that he uses. 

At the present moment I who am writing this 
and you who will read it, whoever you may be 
have wholesome, sufficient, perhaps abundant and 
luxurious food, pure warm air to breathe, winter 
and summer clothing, various recreations, and, 
most important of all, leisure by day and un- 
disturbed repose at night. And here by our 
side live the working people, who have neither 
wholesome food nor healthy lodgings nor sufficient 
clothing nor recreations, and who above all are 
deprived not only of leisure but even of rest : old 
men, children, women, worn out by labour, by 
sleepless nights, by disease, who spend their whole 
lives providing for us those articles of comfort and 
luxury which they do not possess, and which are 
for us not necessities but superfluities. Therefore a 
moral man (I do not say a Christian, but simply 
a man professing humane views or merely esteem- 
ing justice) cannot but wish to change his life and 
to cease to use articles of luxury produced under 
such conditions. 

If a man really pities those who manufacture 
tobacco, then the first thing he will naturally do 
will be to cease smoking, because by continuing 
to buy and smoke tobacco he encourages the pre- 
paration of tobacco by which men's health is 
destroyed. And so with eVery other article of 
luxury. If a man can still continue to eat bread 
notwithstanding the hard work by which it is pro- 



THE FIRST STEP 115 

duced, this is because he cannot forgo what is 
indispensable while waiting for the present condi- 
tions of labour to be altered. But with regard to 
things which are not only unnecessary but are even 
superfluous there can be no other conclusion than 
this : that if I pity men engaged in the manufacture 
of certain articles, then I must on no account 
accustom myself to require such articles. 

But nowadays men argue otherwise. They invent 
the most varied and intricate arguments, but never 
say what naturally occurs to every plain man. 
According to them, it is not at all necessary to 
abstain from luxuries. One can sympathize with 
the condition of the working men, deliver speeches 
and write books on their behalf, and at the same 
time continue to profit by the labour that one sees 
to be ruinous to them. 

According to one argument, I may profit by 
labour that is harmful to the workers because if I 
do not another will. Which is something like the 
argument that I must drink wine that is injurious 
to me because it has been bought and if I do not 
drink it others will. 

According to another argument, it is even bene- 
ficial to the workers to be allowed to produce 
luxuries, for in this way we provide them with 
money that is with the means of subsistence : as 
if we could not provide them with the means of 
subsistence in any other way than by making them 
produce articles injurious to them and superfluous 
to us. 

But according to a third argument, now most 
popular, it seems that, since there is such a thing 
as division of labour, any work upon which a man 
is engaged whether he be a Government official, 
priest, landowner, manufacturer, or merchant is 
so useful that it fully compensates for the labour 



n6 THE FIRST STEP 

of the working classes by which he profits. One 
serves the State, another the Church, a third 
science, a fourth art, and a fifth serves those who 
serve the State, science, and art; and all are firmly 
convinced that what they give to mankind cer- 
tainly compensates for all they take. And it is 
astonishing how, w f hile continually augmenting 
their luxurious requirements without increasing 
their activity, these people continue to be certain 
that their activity compensates for all they con- 
sume. 

Whereas if you listen to these people's judgement 
of one another it appears that each individual is far 
from being worth what he consumes. Government 
officials say that the work of the landlords is not 
worth what they spend, landlords say the same 
about merchants, and merchants about Govern- 
ment officials, and so on. But this does not dis- 
concert them, and they continue to assure people 
that they (each of them) profit by the labours or 
others exactly in proportion to the service they 
render to others. So that the payment is not deter- 
mined by the work, but the value of the imaginary 
work is determined by the payment. Thus they 
assure one another, but they know perfectly well 
in the depth of their souls that all their arguments 
do not justify them; that they are not necessary to 
the working men, and that they profit by the labour 
of those men not on account of any division ol 
labour but simply because they have the power 
to do so, and because they are so spoiled that they 
cannot do without it. 

And all this arises from people imagining that 
it is possible to lead a good life without first 
acquiring the primary quality necessary for a good 
life. 

And that first quality is self-control. 



THE FIRST STEP 117 

VIII 

There never has been and cannot be a good 
life without self-control. Apart from self-control 
no good life is imaginable. The attainment of 
goodness must begin with that. 

There is a scale of virtues, and if one would 
mount the higher steps it is necessary to begin 
\\ith the lowest; and the first virtue a man must 
acquire if he wishes to acquire the others is that 
which the ancients called ey/cparcta or aaxfrpocrvvrj 
that is, self-control or moderation. 

If in the Christian teaching self-control was 
included in the conception of self-renunciation, 
still the order of succession remained the same, and 
the acquirement of any Christian virtue is im- 
possible \\ ithout self-control and this not because 
such a rule has been invented, but because it is the 
essential nature of the case. 

But even self-control, the first step in every 
righteous life, is not attainable all at once but only 
by degrees. 

Self-control is the liberation of man from desires 
their subordination to moderation, aw<f)pocrvvr]. 
But a man's desires are many and various, and in 
order to contend with them successfully he must 
begin with the fundamental ones those upon 
which the more complex ones have grown up 
and not with those complex lusts which have 
grown up upon the fundamental ones. There are 
complex lusts like that of the adornment of the 
body, sports, amusements, idle talk, inquisitive- 
ness, and many others; and there are also funda- 
mental lusts gluttony, idleness, sexual love. And 
one must begin to contend with these lusts from 
the beginning: not with the complex but with the 
fundamental ones, and that also in a definite order. 



Ii8 THE FIRST STEP 

And this order is determined both by the nature 

of things and by the tradition of human wisdom. 

A man who eats too much cannot strive against 
laziness, while a gluttonous and idle man will never 
be able to contend with sexual lust. Therefore, 
according to all moral teachings, the effort towards 
self-control commences with a struggle against the 
lust of gluttony commences with fasting. In our 
time, however, every serious relation to the attain- 
ment of a good life has been so long and so com- 
pletely lost that not only is the very first virtue 
self-control without which the others are un- 
attainable, regarded as superfluous, but the order 
of succession necessary for the attainment of this 
first virtue is also disregarded, and fasting is quite 
forgotten, or is looked upon as a silly superstition, 
utterly unnecessary. 

And yet, just as the first condition of a good life is 
self-control, so the first condition of a life of self- 
control is fasting. 

One may wish to be good, one may dream of 
goodness, without fasting; but to be good without 
fasting is as impossible as it is to advance without 
getting up on one's feet. 

Fasting is an indispensable condition of a good 
life, whereas gluttony is and always has been the 
first sign of the opposite; and unfortunately this 
vice is in the highest degree characteristic of the 
life of the majority of the men of our time. 

Look at the faces and figures of the men of our 
circle and day. On all those faces with pendent 
cheeks and chins, those corpulent limbs and 
prominent stomachs, lies the indelible seal of a 
dissolute life. Nor can it be otherwise. Consider 
our life and the actuating motive of the majority 
of men in our society, and then ask yourself, What 
is the chief interest of this majority? And, strange 



THE FIRST STEP ug 

as it may appear to us who arc accustomed to 
hide our real interests and to profess false, artificial 
ones, you will find that the chief interest of their 
life is the satisfaction of the palate, the pleasure 
of eating gluttony. From the poorest to the 
richest, eating is, I think, the chief aim, the chief 
pleasure, of our life. Poor working people form an 
exception, but only inasmuch as want prevents 
their addicting themselves to this passion. No 
sooner have they the time and the means, than, in 
imitation of the higher classes, they piocure rich 
and tasty foods, and eat and drink as much as they 
can. The more they eat the more do they deem 
themselves not only happy, but also strong and 
healthy. And in this conviction they are encour- 
aged by the upper classes, who regard food in 
precisely the same way. The educated classes 
(following the medical men who assure them that 
the most expensive food, flesh, is the most whole- 
some) imagine that happiness and health consist 
in tasty, nourishing, easily digested food in gorg- 
ing though they try to conceal this. 

Look at rich people's lives, listen to their con- 
versation. What lofty subjects seem to occupy 
them: philosophy, science, art, poetry, the dis- 
tribution of wealth, the welfare of the people, and 
the education of the young ! But all this is, for the 
immense majority, a sham. All this occupies them 
only in the intervals of business, real business : in 
the intervals, that is, between lunch and dinner, 
while the stomach is full and it is impossible to eat 
more. The only real living interest of the majority 
both of men and women, especially after early 
youth, is eating How to eat, what to eat, where to 
eat, and when to eat. 

No solemnity, no rejoicing, no consecration, on 
opening of anything, can dispense with eating. 



120 THE FIRST STEP 

Watch people travelling. In their case the thing 
is specially evident. 'Museums, libraries, Parlia- 
ment how very interesting! But where shall we 
dine? Where is one best fed?' Look at people 
when they come together for dinner, dressed up, 
perfumed, around a table decorated with flowers 
how joyfully they rub their hands and smile ! 

If we could look into the hearts of the majority 
of people what should we find they most desire? 
Appetite for breakfast and for dinner. W 7 hat is the 
severest punishment from infancy upwards? To 
be put on bread and water. What artisans get the 
highest wages? Cooks. What is the chief interest 
of the mistress of the house? To what subject docs 
the conversation of middle-class housewives gener- 
ally tend? If the conversation of the members of 
the higher classes does not tend in the same direc- 
tion it is not because they are better educated or 
are occupied with higher interests, but simply 
because they have a housekeeper or a steward who 
relieves them of all anxiety about their dinner. But 
once deprive them of this convenience and you 
will see what causes them most anxiety. It all 
comes round to the subject of eating: the price 
of grouse, the best way of making coffee, of baking 
sweet cakes, and so on. People come together 
whatever the occasion a christening, a funeral, 
a wedding, the consecration of a church, the 
departure or arrival of a friend, the consecration 
of regimental colours, the celebration of a memor- 
able day, the death or birth of a great scientist, 
philosopher, or teacher of morality men come 
together as if occupied by the most lofty interests. 
But it is only a pretence: they all know that there 
will be eating good tasty food and drinking, 
and it is chiefly this that brings them together. To 
this end, for several days before, animals have been 



THE FIRST STEP 121 

slaughtered, baskets of provisions brought from 
gastronomic shops, cooks and their helpers, kitchen 
boys and maids, specially attired in clean, starched 
frocks and caps, have been 'at \vork'. Chefs, 
receiving 50 a month and more, have been 
occupied in giving directions. Cooks have been 
chopping, kneading, roasting, arranging, adorning. 
With like solemnity and importance a master of the 
ceremonies has been working, calculating, ponder- 
ing, adjusting with his eye, like an artist. A 
gardener has been employed upon the flouers. 
Scullery-maids. . . . An army of men has been at 
work, the result of thousands of working days are 
being swallowed up, and all this that people may 
come together to talk about some great teacher 
of science or morality, or to recall the memory of 
a deceased friend, or to greet a young couple just 
entering upon a new life. 

In the middle and lower classes it is perfectly 
evident that every festivity, every funeral or wed- 
ding, means gluttony. There the matter is so 
undei stood. To such an extent is gluttony the 
motive of the assembly that in Greek and in French 
the same word means both 'wedding' and 'feast'. 
But in the upper classes of the rich, especially 
among the refined who have long possessed wealth, 
great skill is used to conceal this and to make it 
appear that eating is a secondary matter necessary 
only for appearance. And this pretence is easy, 
for in the majority of cases the guests are satiated 
in the true sense of the word they are never 
hungry. 

They pretend that dinner, eating, is not neces- 
sary to them, is even a burden ; but this is a lie. Try 
giving them instead of the refined dishes they 
expect I do not say bread and water, but por- 
ridge or gruel or something of that kind, and see 



122 THE FIRST STEP 

what a storm it will call forth and how evident 
will become the real truth, namely, that the chief 
interest of the assembly is not the ostensible one 
but gluttony. 

Look at what men sell. Go through a town and 
see what men buy articles of adornment and 
things to devour. And indeed this must be so, it 
cannot be otherwise. It is only possible not to 
think about eating, to keep this lust under control, 
when a man does not eat except in obedience to 
necessity. If a man ceases to eat only in obedience 
to necessity if, that is, he eats when the stomach 
is full then the state of things cannot but be what 
it actually is. If men love the pleasure of eating, 
if they allow themselves to love this pleasure, if 
they find it good (as is the case with the vast 
majority of men in our time, and with educated 
men quite as much as with uneducated, though 
they pretend that it is not so), there is no limit to the 
augmentation of this pleasure, no limit beyond 
which it may not grow. The satisfaction of a need 
has limits, but pleasure has none. For the satis- 
faction of our needs it is necessary and sufficient to 
eat bread, porridge, or rice; for the augmentation 
of pleasure there is no end to the possible flavour- 
ings and seasonings. 

Bread is a necessary and sufficient food. (This 
is proved by the millions of men who are strong, 
active, healthy, and hard-working on rye bread 
alone.) But it is pleasanter to eat bread with some 
flavouring. It is well to soak the bread in water 
boiled with meat. Still better to put into this 
water some vegetable or, even better, several 
vegetables. It is well to eat flesh. And flesh is 
better not stewed, but roasted. It is better still with 
butter, and underdone, and choosing out certain 
special parts of the meat. But add to this vegetables 



THE FIRST STEP 123 

and mustard. And drink wine with it, red wine 
for preference. One does not need any more, but 
one can still eat some fish if it is well flavoured with 
sauces and swallowed down with white wine. It 
would seem as if one could get through nothing 
more, either rich or tasty, but a sweet dish can 
still be managed : in summer ices, in winter stewed 
fruits, preserves, and the like. And thus we have 
a dinner, a modest dinner. The pleasure of such 
a dinner can be greatly augmented. And it is 
augmented, and there is no limit to this augmenta- 
tion : stimulating snacks, hors-d'oeuvres before dinner, 
and entremets and desserts, and various combina- 
tions of tasty things, and flowers and decorations 
and music during dinner. 

And strange to say, men who daily overeat 
themselves at such dinners in comparison witfc 
which the feast of Belshazzar that evoked the 
prophetic warning was nothing are naively per- 
suaded that they may yet be leading a moral life. 

IX 

Fasting is an indispensable condition of a good 
life; but in fasting, as in self-control in general, the 
question arises, what shall we begin with? How 
to fast, how often to eat, what to eat, what to 
avoid eating? And as we can do no work seriously 
without regarding the necessary order of sequence, 
so also we cannot fast without knowing where to 
begin with what to commence self-control in food. 

Fasting! And even an analysis of how to fast 
and where to begin! The notion seems ridiculous 
and wild to the majority of men. 

I remember how an Evangelical preacher who 
was attacking monastic asceticism once said to 
me with pride at his own originality, 'Ours is not 
a Christianity of fasting and privations, but of 



124 THE FIRST STEP 

beefsteaks. 5 Christianity, or virtue in general and 

beefsteaks ! 

During a long period of darkness and lack of all 
guidance, Pagan or Christian, so many wild, 
immoral ideas have made their way into our life 
(especially into that lower region of the first steps 
towards a good life our relation to food to which 
no one paid any attention), that it is difficult for 
us in our days even to understand the audacity 
and senselessness of upholding Christianity or 
virtue with beefsteaks. 

We are not horrified by this association simply 
because a strange thing has befallen us. We look 
and see not: listen and hear not. There is no bad 
odour, no sound, no monstrosity, to which man 
cannot become so accustomed that he ceases to 
remark what would strike a man unaccustomed 
to it. And it is precisely the same in the moral 
region. Christianity and morality with beef- 
steaks ! 

A few days ago I visited the slaughter-house in 
our town of Tula. It is built on the new and im- 
proved system practised in large towns, with a 
view to causing the animals as little suffering as 
possible. It was on a Friday, two days before 
Trinity Sunday. There were many cattle there. 

Long before this, when reading that excellent 
book, The Ethics of Diet, I had wished to visit a 
slaughter-house in order to see with my own eyes 
the reality of the question raised when vegetarian- 
ism is discussed. But at first I felt ashamed to do 
so, as one is always ashamed of going to look at 
suffering which one knows is about to take place 
but which one cannot avert; and so I kept putting 
off my visit. 

But a little while ago I met on the road a butcher 
returning to Tula after a visit to his home. He is 



THE FIRST STEP 125 

not yet an experienced butcher, and his duty is to 
stab with a knife. I asked him whether he did not 
feel sorry for the animals that he killed. He gave 
me the usual answer: 'Why should I feel sorry? It 
is necessary.' But when I told him that eating 
flesh is not necessary, but is only a luxury, he 
agreed; and then he admitted that he was sorrv 
for the animals. 'But what can I do?' he said, 
'I must earn my bread. At first I was afraid to 
kill. My father, he never even killed a chicken in 
all his life.' The majority of Russians cannot kill; 
they feel pity, and express the feeling by the word 
''fear". This man had also been 'afraid', but he 
was so no longer. He told me that most of the 
work was done on Fridays, when it continues until 
the evening. 

Not long ago I also had a talk with a retired 
soldier, a butcher, and he too was surprised at my 
assertion that it was a pity to kill, and said the usual 
things about its being ordained. But afterwards he 
agreed with me: 'Especially w r hen they are quiet, 
tame cattle. They come, poor things ! trusting you. 
It is very pitiful.' 

This is dreadful! Not the suffering and death 
of the animals, but that man suppresses in himself, 
unnecessarily, the highest spiritual capacity that 
of sympathy and pity towards living creatures like 
himself and by violating his own feelings becomes 
cruel. And how deeply seated in the human heart 
is the injunction not to take life! 

Once, when walking from Moscow, 1 I was 
offered a lift by some carters who were going from 
Serpukhov to a neighbouring forest to fetch wood. 

1 When returning to Yasnaya Polyana in spring after his 
winter's residence in Moscow, Tolst6y repeatedly chose to 
walk the distance (something over 1 30 miles) instead of going 
by rail. S6rpukhov is a town he had to pass on the way. A. M. 



126 THE FIRST STEP 

It was the Thursday before Easter. I was seated 
in the first cart with a strong, red, coarse carman, 
who evidently drank. On entering a village we 
saw a well-fed, naked, pink pig being dragged out 
of the first yard to be slaughtered. It squealed in 
a dreadful voice, resembling the shriek of a man. 
Just as we were passing they began to kill it. A 
man gashed its throat with a knife. The pig 
squealed still more loudly and piercingly, broke 
away from the men, and ran off covered with 
blood. Being near-sighted I did not see all the 
details. I saw only the human-looking pink body 
of the pig and heard its desperate squeal, but the 
carter saw all the details and watched closely. 
They caught the pig, knocked it down, and finished 
cutting its throat. When its squeals ceased the 
carter sighed heavily. 'Do men really not have to 
answer for such things?' he said. 

So strong is man's aversion to all killing. But by 
example, by encouraging greediness, by the asser- 
tion that God has allowed it, and above all by 
habit, people entirely lose this natural feeling. 

On Friday I decided to go to Tula, and, meeting 
a meek, kind acquaintance of mine, I invited him 
to accompany me. 

'Yes, I have heard that the arrangements are 
good, and have been wishing to go and see it; but 
if they are slaughtering I will not go in.' 

'Why not? That's just what I want to see! If 
we eat flesh it must be killed. 1 

'No, no, I cannot!' 

It is worth remarking that this man is a sports- 
man and himself kills animals and birds. 

So we went to the slaughter-house. Even at the 
entrance one noticed the heavy, disgusting, fetid 
smell, as of carpenter's glue, or paint on glue. 
The nearer we approached the stronger became 



THE FIRST STEP 127 

the smell. The building is of red brick, very large, 
with vaults and high chimneys. We entered the 
gates. To the right was a spacious enclosed yard, 
three-quarters of an acre in extent twice a week 
cattle are driven in here for sale and adjoining 
this enclosure \vas the porter's lodge. To the left 
were the chambers, as they are called i.e. rooms 
with arched entrances, sloping asphalt floors, and 
contrivances for moving and hanging up the car- 
casses. On a bench against the wall of the porter's 
lodge were seated half a dozen butchers, in aprons 
covered with blood, their tucked-up sleeves dis- 
closing their muscular arms also besmeared with 
blood. They had finished their work half an hour 
before, so that day we could only see the empty 
chambers. Though these chambers were open on 
both sides, there was an oppressive smell of warm 
blood ; the floor was brown and shining, with con- 
gealed black blood in the cavities. 

One of the butchers described the process of 
slaughtering, and showed us the place where it was 
done. I did not quite understand him, and formed 
a wrong, but very horrible, idea of the way the 
animals are slaughtered; and I fancied that, as is 
often the case, the reality would very likely produce 
upon me a weaker impression than the imagina- 
tion. But in this I was mistaken. 

The next time I visited the slaughter-house I 
went in good time. It was the Friday before 
Trinity a warm day in June. The smell of glue 
and blood was even stronger and more penetrating 
than on my first visit. The work was at its height. 
The dusty yard was full of cattle, and animals had 
been driven into all the enclosures beside the 
chambers. 

In the street before the entrance stood carts to 
which oxen, calves, and cows were tied. Other 



128 THE FIRST STEP 

carts drawn by good horses and filled with live 
calves, whose heads hung down and swayed about, 
drew up and were unloaded; and similar carts 
containing the carcasses of oxen, with trembling 
legs sticking out, with heads and bright red lungs 
and brown livers, drove away from the slaughter- 
house. By the fence stood the cattle-dealers' 
horses. The dealers themselves, in their long coats, 
with their whips and knouts in their hands, were 
walking about the yard, either marking with tar 
cattle belonging to the same owner, or bargaining, 
or else guiding oxen and bulls from the great yard 
into the enclosures which lead into the chambers. 
These men were evidently all preoccupied with 
money matters and calculations, and any thought 
as to whether it was right or wrong to kill these 
animals was as far from their minds as were 
questions about the chemical composition of the 
blood that covered the floor of the chambers. 

No butchers were to be seen in the yard; they 
were all in the chambers at work. That day about 
a hundred head of cattle were slaughtered. I was 
on the point of entering one of the chambers, but 
stopped short at the door. I stopped both because 
the chamber was crowded with carcasses which 
were being moved about, and also because blood 
was flowing on the floor and dripping from above. 
All the butchers present were besmeared with 
blood, and had I entered I, too, should certainly 
have been covered with it. One suspended carcass 
was being taken down, another was being moved 
towards the door, a third, a slaughtered ox, was 
lying with its white legs raised, while a butcher 
with strong hand was ripping up its tight-stretched 
hide. 

Through the door opposite the one at which I 
was standing, a big, red, well-fed ox was led in. 



THE FIRST STEP 129 

Two men were dragging it, and hardly had it 
entered when I saw a butcher raise a knife above 
its neck and stab it. The ox, as if all four legs had 
suddenly given way, fell heavily on its belly, im- 
mediately turned over on one side, and began to 
work its legs and its whole hind-quarters. Another 
butcher at once threw himself upon the ox from 
the side opposite to the twitching legs, caught its 
horns and twisted its head down to the ground, 
while another butcher cut its throat with a knife. 
From beneath the head there flowed a stream of 
blackish-red blood, which a besmeared boy caught 
in a tin basin. All the time this was going on the 
ox kept incessantly twitching its head as if trying 
to get up, and waved its four legs in the air. The 
basin was quickly filling, but the ox still lived, and, 
its stomach heaving heavily, both hind and fore 
legs worked so violently that the butchers held 
aloof. When one basin was full the boy carried it 
away on his head to the albumen factory, while 
another boy placed a fresh basin, which also soon 
began to fill up. But still the ox heaved its body 
and worked its hind legs. 

When the blood ceased to flow the butcher 
raised the animal's head and began to skin it. The 
ox continued to writhe. The head, stripped of its 
skin, showed red with white veins, and kept the 
position given it by the butcher; the skin hung 
on both sides. Still the animal did not cease to 
writhe. Then another butcher caught hold of one 
of the legs, broke it, and cut it off. In the remaining 
legs and the stomach the convulsions still continued. 
The other legs were cut off and thrown aside, to- 
gether with those of other oxen belonging to the 
same owner. Then the carcass was dragged to the 
hoist and hung up and the convulsions were over. 

Thus I looked on from the door at the second, 

459 p 



130 THE FIRST STEP 

third, and fourth ox. It was the same with each : the 
same cutting off of the head with bitten tongue, 
and the same convulsive members. The only 
difference was that the butcher did not always 
strike at once so as to cause the animal's fall. 
Sometimes he missed his aim, whereupon the ox 
leaped up, bellowed, and, covered with blood, 
tried to escape. But then his head was pulled under 
a bar, struck a second time, and he fell. 

I afterwards entered by the door at which the 
oxen were led in. Here I saw the same thing, only 
nearer, and therefore more plainly. But chiefly I 
saw here, what I had not seen before, how the 
oxen were forced to enter this door. Each time an 
ox was seized in the enclosure and pulled forward 
by a rope tied to its horns, the animal, smelling 
blood, refused to advance, and sometimes bellowed 
and drew back. It would have been beyond the 
strength of two men to drag it in by force, so one 
of the butchers went round each time, grasped the 
animal's tail, and twisted it so violently that the 
gristle crackled, and the ox advanced. 

When they had finished with the cattle of one 
owner they brought in those of another. The first 
animal of this next lot was not an ox but a bull a 
fine, well-bred creature, black, with white spots on 
its legs, young, muscular, full of energy. He was 
dragged forward, but he lowered his head and 
resisted sturdily. Then the butcher who followed 
behind seized the tail like an engine-driver grasp- 
ing the handle of a whistle, twisted it, the gristle 
crackled, and the bull rushed forward, upsetting 
the men who held the rope. Then it stopped, 
looking sideways with its black eyes, the whites of 
which had filled with blood. But again the tail 
crackled, and the bull sprang forward and reached 
the required spot. The striker approached, took 



THE FIRST STEP 131 

aim, and struck. But the blow missed the mark. 
The bull leaped up, shook his head, bellowed, and, 
covered with blood, broke free and rushed back. 
The men at the doorway all sprang aside; but the 
experienced butchers, with the dash of men inured 
to danger, quickly caught the rope; again the tail 
operation was repeated, and again the bull was in 
the chamber, where he was dragged under the bar, 
from which he did not again escape. The striker 
quickly took aim at the spot where the hair divides 
like a star, and, notwithstanding the blood, found 
it, struck, and the fine animal, full of life, collapsed, 
its head and legs writhing while it was bled and 
the head skinned. 

*There, the cursed devil hasn't even fallen the 
right way!' grumbled the butcher as he cut the 
skin from the head. 

Five minutes later the head was stuck up, red 
instead of black, without skin; the eyes, that had 
shone with such splendid colour five minutes 
before, fixed and glassy. 

Afterwards I went into the compartment where 
small animals are slaughtered a very large cham- 
ber with asphalt floor, and tables with backs, on 
which sheep and calves are killed. Here the work 
was already finished ; in the long room, impregnated 
with the smell of blood, were only two butchers. 
One was blowing into the leg of a dead lamb and 
patting the swollen stomach with his hand; the 
other, a young fellow in an apron besmeared with 
blood, was smoking a bent cigarette. There was no 
one else in the long dark chamber, filled with a 
heavy smell. After me there entered a man, ap- 
parently an ex-soldier, bringing in a young yearling 
ram, black with a white mark on its neck, and its 
legs tied. This animal he placed upon one of the 
tables as if upon a bed. The old soldier greeted 



1 32 THE FIRST STEP 

the butchers, with whom he was evidently ac- 
quainted, and began to ask when their master 
allowed them leave. The fellow with the cigarette 
approached with a knife, sharpened it on the edge 
of the table, and answered that they were free on 
holidays. The live ram was lying as quietly as 
the dead inflated one, except that it was briskly 
wagging its short little tail and its sides were 
heaving more quickly than usual. The soldier 
pressed down its uplifted head gently, without 
effort; the butcher, still continuing the conversa- 
tion, grasped with his left hand the head of the 
ram and cut its throat. The ram quivered, and 
the little tail stiffened and ceased to wave. The 
fellow, while waiting for the blood to flow, began 
to relight his cigarette which had gone out. The 
blood flowed and the ram began to writhe. The 
conversation continued without the slightest inter- 
ruption. It was horribly revolting. 

******* 

And how about those hens and chickens which 
daily, in thousands of kitchens, with heads cut off 
and streaming with blood, comically, dreadfully, 
flop about, jerking their wings? 

And see, a kind, refined lady will devour the 
carcasses of these animals with full assurance that 
she is doing right, at the same time asserting two 
contradictory propositions: 

First, that she is, as her doctor assures her, so 
delicate that she cannot be sustained by vegetable 
food alone and that for her feeble organism flesh 
is indispensable; and secondly, that she is so 
sensitive that she is unable, not only herself to 
inflict suffering on animals, but even to bear the 
sight of suffering. 

Whereas the poor lady is weak precisely because 
she has been taught to live upon food unnatural to 



THE FIRST STEP 133 

man; and she cannot avoid causing suffering to 
animals for she eats them. 



We cannot pretend that we do not know this. 
We are not ostriches, and cannot believe that if 
we refuse to look at what we do not wish to see, it 
will not exist. This is especially the case when what 
we do not wish to see is \\hat we wish to eat. If it 
were really indispensable, or if not indispensable, 
at least in some way useful! But it is quite un- 
necessary, 1 and only serves to develop animal 
feelings, to excite desire, and to promote fornication 
and drunkenness. And this is continually being con- 
firmed by the fact that young, kind, undepraved 
people especially women and girls without know- 
ing how it logically follows, feel that virtue is incom- 
patible with beefsteaks, and, as soon as they wish 
to be good, give up eating flesh. 

What, then, do I wish to say? That in order to 
be moral people must cease to eat meat? Not at all. 

I only wish to say that for a good life a certain 
order of good actions is indispensable ; that if a man's 
aspirations toward right living be serious they will 
inevitably follow one definite sequence; and that 
in this sequence the first virtue a man will strive 
after will be self-control, self-restraint. And in 
seeking for self-control a man will inevitably follow 
one definite sequence, and in this sequence the 

1 Let those who doubt this read the numerous books upon 
the subject, written by scientists and doctors, in which it is 
proved that flesh is not necessary for the nourishment of 
man. And let them not listen to those old-fashioned doctors 
who defend the assertion that flesh is necessary, merely because 
it has long been so regarded by their predecessors and by 
themselves; and who defend their opinion with tenacity and 
malevolence, as all that is old and traditional always is 
defended.!-. T. 



134 THE FIRST STEP 

first thing will be self-control in food fasting. And 
in fasting, if he be really and seriously seeking to 
live a good life, the first thing from which he will 
abstain will always be the use of animal food, be- 
cause, to say nothing of the excitation of the 
passions caused by such food, its use is simply 
immoral, as it involves the performance of an act 
which is contrary to moral feeling killing; and 
is called forth only by greediness and the desire 
for tasty food. 

The precise reason why abstinence from animal 
food will be the first act of fasting and of a moral 
life is admirably explained in the book, The Ethics 
of Diet ; and not by one man only, but by all man- 
kind in the persons of its best representatives during 
all the conscious life of humanity. 

But why, if the wrongfulness i.e. the immorality 
of animal food was known to humanity so lon^ 
ago, have people not yet come to acknowledge this 
law? will be asked by those who are accustomed to 
be led by public opinion rather than by reason. 

The answer to this question is that the moral 
progress of humanity which is the foundation of 
every other kind of progress is always slow ; but 
that the sign of true, not casual, progress is its 
uninterruptedness and its continual acceleration. 

And the progress of vegetarianism is of this kind. 
That progress is expressed both in the words of the 
writers cited in the above-mentioned book and in 
the actual life of mankind, which from many causes 
is involuntarily passing more and more from car- 
nivorous habits to vegetable food, and is also de- 
liberately following the same path in a movement 
which shows evident strength, and which is growing 
larger and larger viz. vegetarianism. That move- 
ment has during the last ten years advanced more 
and more rapidly. More and more books and 



THE FIRST STEP 135 

periodicals on this subject appear every year; onr 
meets more and more people who have given up 
meat; and abroad, especially in Germany, England, 
and America, the number of vegetarian hotels and 
restaurants increases year by year. 

This movement should cause especial joy to those 
\\hose life lies in the effort to bring about the 
kingdom of God on earth, not because vegetarian- 
ism is in itself an important step towards that 
kingdom (all true steps are both important and 
unimportant), but because it is a sign that the 
aspiration of mankind towards moral perfection is 
serious and sincere, for it has taken the one un- 
alterable order of succession natural to it, beginning 
with the first step. 

One cannot fail to rejoice at this, as people could 
not fail to rejoice who, after striving to reach the 
upper story of a house by trying vainly and at 
random to climb the walls from different points, 
should at last assemble at the first step of the stair- 
case and crowd towards it, convinced that there can 
be no way up except by mounting this first step 
of the stairs. 

['**] 

[The above essay was written as Preface to a Russian 
translation of Howard Williams's The Ethics of Diet.] 



NON-ACTING 

editor of a Paris review, thinking that the 
Jl opinions of two celebrated writers on the state 
of mind that is common to-day would interest me, 
has sent me two extracts from French newspapers 
one containing Zola's speech delivered at the ban- 
quet of the General Association of Students, the 
other containing a letter from Dumas to the editor 
of the Gaulois. 

These documents interested me profoundly, both 
on account of their timeliness and the celebrity of 
their authors, and also because it would be difficult 
to find so concisely, vigorously, and brilliantly ex- 
pressed in present-day literature the two funda- 
mental forces that move humanity. The one is 
the force of routine, tending to keep humanity 
in its accustomed path; the other is the force of 
reason and love, drawing humanity towards the 
light. 

The following is Zola's speech in extenso: 

'GENTLEMEN, 

'You have paid me a great honour and conferred 
on me a great pleasure by choosing me to preside 
at this Annual Banquet. There is no better or more 
charming society than that of the young. There is 
no audience more sympathetic, or before whom 
one's heart opens more freely with the wish to be 
loved and listened to. 

*I, alas! have reached an age at which we begin 
to regret our departed youth, and to pay attention 
to the efforts of the rising generation that is climb- 
ing up behind us. It is they who will both judge 
us and carry on our work. In them I feel the future 
coming to birth, and at times I ask myself, not 



NON-ACTING 137 

without some anxiety, What of all our efforts will 
they reject and what will they retain? What will 
happen to our work when it has passed into their 
hands? For it cannot last except through them, and 
it will disappear unless they accept it, to enlarge it 
and bring it to completion. 

'That is why I eagerly watch the movement of 
ideas among the youth of to-day, and read the 
advanced papers and reviews, endeavouring to 
keep in touch with the new spirit that animates our 
schools and striving vainly to know whither you 
are all wending your way you, who represent the 
intelligence and the will of to-morrow. 

'Certainly, gentlemen, egotism plays its part in 
the matter; I do not hide it. I am somewhat like 
a workman who, finishing a house which he hopes 
will shelter his old age, is anxious concerning the 
weather he has to expect. Will the rain damage his 
walls? May not a sudden wind from the north 
tear the roof off? Above all, has he built strongly 
enough to resist the storm? Has he spared neither 
durable material nor irksome labour? It is not 
that I think our work eternal or final. The greatest 
must resign themselves to the thought that they 
represent but a moment in the ever-continuing 
development of the human spirit : it will be more 
than sufficient to have been for one hour the mouth- 
piece of a generation ! And since one cannot keep 
a literature stationary but all things continually 
evolve and recommence, one must expect to see 
younger men born and grow up who will, perhaps, 
in their turn cause you to be forgotten. I do not 
say that the old warrior in me docs not at times 
desire to resist when he feels his work attacked. 
But in truth I face the approaching century with 
more of curiosity than of revolt, and more of ardent 
sympathy than of personal anxiety; let me perish, 



138 NON- ACTING 

and let all my generation perish with me if indeed 
we are good for nothing but to fill up the ditch 
for those who follow us in the march towards the 
light. 

'Gentlemen, I constantly hear it said that 
Positivism is at its last gasp, that Naturalism is 
dead, that Science has reached the point of bank- 
ruptcy, having failed to supply either the moral 
peace or the human happiness it promised. You 
will well understand that I do not here undertake 
to solve the great problems raised by these ques- 
tions. I am an ignoramus and have no authority 
to speak in the name of science or philosophy. I 
am, if you please, simply a novelist, a writer who 
has at times seen a little way into the heart of 
things, and whose competence consists only in 
having observed much and worked much. And it 
is only as a witness that I allow myself to speak of 
what my generation the men who are now fifty 
years old and whom your generation will soon 
regard as ancestors has been, or at least has 
wished to be. 

'I was much struck, a few days ago, at the open- 
ing of the Salon du Champ-de-Mars, by the character- 
istic appearance of the rooms. It is thought that 
the pictures are always much the same. That is an 
error. The evolution is slow, but how astonished 
one would be to-day were it possible to revert to 
the Salons of some former years ! For my part, I 
well remember the last academic and romantic 
exhibitions about 1863. Work in the open air (le 
plein air) had not yet triumphed; there was a 
general tone of bitumen, a smudging of canvas, a 
prevalence of burnt colours, the semi-darkness of 
studios. Then some fifteen years later, after the 
victorious and much-contested influence of Manet, 
I can recall quite other exhibitions where the clear 



NON-ACTING 139 

tone of full sunlight shone; it was as it were an 
inundation of light, a care for truth which made 
each picture-frame a window opened upon Nature 
bathed in light. And yesterday, after another 
fifteen years, I could discern amid the fresh lim- 
pidity of the productions the rising of a kind of 
mystic fog. There was the same care for clear 
painting, but the reality was changing, the figures 
were more elongated, the need of originality and 
novelty carried the artists over into the land of 
dreams. 

4 If I have dwelt on these three stages of con- 
temporary painting, I have done so because it 
seems to me that they correspond very strikingly 
to the contemporary movements of thought. My 
generation indeed, following illustrious prede- 
cessors of whom we were but the successors, strove 
to open the windows wide to Nature, in order to 
see all and to say all. In our generation, even 
among those least conscious of it, the long efforts 
of positive philosophy and of analytical and experi- 
mental science came to fruition. Our fealty 
was to Science, which surrounded us on all sides; 
in her we lived, breathing the air of the epoch. 
I am free to confess that personally I was even 
a sectarian who lived to transport the rigid 
methods of Science into the domain of Literature. 
But where can the man be found who in the stress 
of strife does not exceed what is necessary, and is 
content to conquer without compromising his 
victory? On the whole I have nothing to regret, 
and I continue to believe in the passion which wills 
and acts. What enthusiasm, what hope, were ours ! 
To know all, to prevail in all, and to conquer all ! 
By means of truth to make humanity more noble 
and more happy! 

'And it is at this point, gentlemen! that you, the 



140 NON-ACTING 

young, appear upon the scene. I say the young, 
but the term is vague, distant, and deep as the sea, 
for where are the young? What will it the young 
generation really become? Who has a right tc 
speak in its name? I must of necessity deal with 
the ideas attributed to it, but if these ideas are not 
at all those held by many of you, I ask pardon in 
advance, and refer you to the men who have misled 
us by untrustworthy information, more in accord 
no doubt with their own wishes than with reality. 

'At any rate, gentlemen, we are assured that 
your generation is parting company with ours, that 
you will no longer put all your hope in Science, 
that you have perceived so great a social and moral 
danger in trusting fully to her that you are deter- 
mined to throw yourselves back upon the past in 
order to construct a living faith from the debris 
of dead ones. 

'Of course there is no question of a complete 
divorce from Science; it is understood that you 
accept her latest conquests and mean to extend 
them. It is agreed that you will admit demon- 
strated truths, and efforts are even being made to 
fit them to ancient dogmas. But at bottom 
Science is to stand out of the road of faith it is 
thrust back to its ancient rank as a simple exercise 
of the intelligence, an inquiry permitted so long 
as it does not infringe on the supernatural and the 
hereafter. It is said that the experiment has been 
made, and that Science can neither repeople the 
heavens she has emptied nor restore happiness to 
souls whose naive peace she has destroyed. The 
day of her mendacious triumph is over; she must 
be modest since she cannot immediately know 
everything, enrich everything, and heal every- 
thing. And if they dare not yet bid intelligent youth 
throw away its books and desert its masters, there 



NON-ACTING 141 

are already sainti and prophets to be found going 
about to exalt the virtue of ignorance, the serenity 
of simplicity, and to proclaim the need a too-learned 
and decrepit humanity has of recuperating itself 
in the depths of a prehistoric village, among 
ancestors hardly detached from the earth, ante- 
ceding all society and all knowledge. 

4 1 do not at all deny the crisis we are passing 
through this lassitude and revolt at the end of the 
century, after such feverish and colossal labour, 
whose ambition it was to know all and to say all. 
It seemed that Science, which had just overthrown 
the old order, would promptly reconstruct it in 
accord with our ideal of justice and of happiness. 
Twenty, fifty, even a hundred years passed. And 
then, when it was seen that justice did not reign, 
that happiness did not come, many people yielded 
to a growing impatience, falling into despair and 
denying that by knowledge one can ever reach the 
happy land. It is a common occurrence; there can 
be no action without reaction, and w r e are witness- 
ing the fatigue inevitably incidental to long 
journeys: people sit down by the roadside seeing 
the interminable plain of another century stretch 
before them, they despair of ever reaching their 
destination, and they finish by even doubting the 
road they have travelled and regretting not to 
have reposed in a field to sleep for ever under the 
stars. What is the good of advancing if the goal 
is ever further removed? What is the use of know- 
ing, if one may not know everything? As well let 
us keep our unsullied simplicity, the ignorant 
happiness of a child. 

'And thus it seemed that Science, which was 
supposed to have promised happiness, had reached 
bankruptcy. 

'But did Science promise happiness? I do not 



142 NON-ACTING 

believe it. She promised truth, and the question 
is whether one will ever reach happiness by way 
of truth. In order to content oneself with what 
truth gives, much stoicism will certainly be needed : 
absolute self-abnegation and a serenity of the satis- 
fied intelligence which seems to be discoverable 
only among the chosen few. But meanwhile what 
a cry of despair rises from suffering humanity! 
How can life be lived without lies and illusions? If 
there is no other world where justice reigns, where 
the wicked are punished and the good are recom- 
pensed how are we to live through this abomin- 
able human life without revolting? Nature is 
unjust and cruel. Science seems to lead us to the 
monstrous law of the strongest so that all morality 
crumbles away and every society makes for despot- 
ism. And in the reaction which results in that 
lassitude from too much knowledge of which I have 
spoken there comes a recoil from the truth which 
is as yet but poorly explained, and seems cruel to 
our feeble eyes that are unable to penetrate into 
and to seize all its laws. No, no ! Lead us back to 
the peaceful slumber of ignorance! Reality is a 
school of perversion which must be killed and 
denied, since it will lead to nothing but ugliness and 
crime. So one plunges into dreamland as the only 
salvation, the only way to escape from the earth, 
to feel confidence in the hereafter and hope that 
there, at last, we shall find happiness and the satis- 
faction of our desire for fraternity and justice. 

'That is the despairing cry for happiness which 
we hear to-day. It touches me exceedingly. And 
notice that it rises from all sides like a cry of lamen- 
tation amid the re-echoing of advancing Science, 
who checks not the march of her waggons and her 
engines. Enough of truth ; give us chimeras ! We 
shall find rest only in dreams of the Non-existent, 



NON-ACTING 143 

only by losing ourselves in the Unknown. There 
only bloom the mystic flowers whose perfume lulls 
our sufferings to sleep. Music has already re- 
sponded to the call, literature strives to satisfy this 
new thirst, and painting follows the same way. I 
have spoken to you of the exhibition at the Champ- 
de-Mars; there you may see the bloom of all this 
flora of our ancient windows lank, emaciated 
virgins, apparitions in twilight tints, stiff figures 
with the rigid gestures of the Primitivists. It is a 
reaction against Naturalism which we are told is 
dead and buried. In any case the movement is 
undeniable, for it manifests itself in all modes of 
expression, and one must pay great attention to 
the study and the explanation of it if one does not 
wish to despair of to-morrow, 

'For my part, gentlemen, I, who am an old and 
hardened Positivist, see in it but an inevitable halt 
in the forward march. It is not really even a halt, 
for our libraries, our laboratories, our lecture-halls 
and our schools, are not deserted. What also 
reassures me is that the social soil has undergone 
no change, it is still the democratic soil from which 
our century sprang. For a new art to flourish or 
a new faith to change the direction in which 
humanity is travelling that faith would need a 
new soil which would allow it to germinate and 
grow: for there can be no new society without 
a new soil. Faith does not rise from the dead, and 
one can make nothing but mythologies out of dead 
religions. Therefore the coming century will but 
continue our own in the democratic and scientific 
rush forward which has swept us along, and which 
still continues. What I can concede is that in 
literature we limited our horizon too much. Per- 
sonally I have already regretted that I was a 
sectarian in that I wished art to confine itself to 



144 NON-ACTING 

proven verities. Later comers have extended the 
horizon by reconquering the region of the unknown 
and the mysterious; and they have done well. 
Between the truths fixed by science, which are 
henceforth immovable, and the truths Science will 
to-morrow seize from the region of the unknown to 
fix in their turn, there lies an undefined borderland 
of doubt and inquiry, which it seems to me belongs 
to literature as much as to science. It is there we 
may go as pioneers, doing our work as forerunners, 
and interpreting the action of unknown forces ac- 
cording to our characters and minds. The ideal 
what is it but the unexplained : those forces of the 
infinite world in which we are plunged without 
knowing them? But if it be permissible to invent 
solutions of what is unknown, dare we therefore call 
in question ascertained laws, imagining them other 
than they are and thereby denying them? As 
science advances it is certain that the ideal recedes : 
and it seems to me that the only meaning of life, 
the only joy we ought to attribute to life, lies in this 
gradual conquest, even if one has the melancholy 
assurance that we never shall know everything. 

c ln the unquiet times in which we live, gentle- 
men, in our day so satiated and so irresolute 
shepherds of the soul have arisen who are troubled 
in mind and ardently offer a faith to the rising 
generation. The offer is generous, but unfor- 
tunately the faith changes and deteriorates accord- 
ing to the personality of the prophet who supplies 
it. There are several kinds, but none of them 
appear to me to be very clear or very well defined. 

'You are asked to believe, but are not told pre- 
cisely what you should believe. Perhaps it cannot 
be told, or perhaps they dare not tell it. 

'You are to bdieve for the pleasure of believing, 
and especially that you may learn to believe. The 



NON-ACTING 145 

advice is not bad in itself it is certainly a great 
happiness to rest in the certainty of a faith, no 
matter what it may be but the worst of it is that 
one is not master of this virtue : it bloweth where 
it listeth. 

*I am therefore also going to finish by proposing 
to you a faith, and by beseeching you to have faith 
in work. Work, young people! I well know how 
trivial such advice appears: no speech-day passes 
at which it is not repeated amid the general 
indifference of the scholars. But I ask you to reflect 
on it, and I who have been nothing but a worker 
will permit myself to speak of all the benefit I 
have derived from the long task that has filled 
my life. I had no easy start in life; I have known 
want and despair. Later on I lived in strife and 
I live in it still discussed, denied, covered with 
abuse. Well, I have had but one faith, one strength 
work ! What has sustained me was the enormous 
labour I set myself. Before me stood always in the 
distance the goal towards which I was marching, 
and when life's hardships had cast me down, that 
sufficed to set me on my feet and to give me courage 
to advance in spite of all. The work of which I 
speak to you is the regular work, the daily task, the 
duty one has undertaken to advance one step each 
day towards the fulfilment of one's engagement. 
How often in the morning have I sat down to my 
table my head in confusion a bitter taste in my 
mouth tortured by some great sorrow, physical 
or moral! And each time in spite of the revolt 
my suffering has caused after the first moments 
of agony my task has been to me an alleviation and 
a comfort. I have always come from my daily 
task consoled with a broken heart perhaps, but 
erect and able to live on till the morrow. 

'Work ! Remember, gentlemen, that it is the sole 



146 NON- ACTING 

law of the world, the regulator bringing organic 
matter to its unknown goal! Life has no other 
meaning, no other raison d'etre; we each of us appear 
but to perform our allotted task and to disappear. 
One cannot define life otherwise than by the 
movement it receives and bequeaths, and which is 
in reality nothing but work, work at the final 
achievement accomplished by all the ages. How, 
therefore, can we be other than modest? How can 
we do other than accept the individual task given 
to each of us, and accept it without rebellion and 
without yielding to the pride of that personal "I", 
which considers itself a centre and does not wish 
to take its place in the ranks? 

4 From the time one accepts that task and begins 
to fulfil it, it seems to me tranquillity should come 
even to those most tormented. I know that there 
are minds tortured by thoughts of the Infinite, 
minds that suffer from the presence of mystery, and 
it is to them I address myself as a brother, advising 
them to occupy their lives with some immense 
labour, of which it were even well that they should 
never see the completion. It will be the balance 
enabling them to march straight; it will be a con- 
tinual diversion grain thrown to their intelligence 
that it may grind and convert it into daily bread, with 
the satisfaction that comes of duty accomplished. 

'It is true this solves no metaphysical problems; 
it is but an empirical recipe enabling one to live 
one's life honestly and more or less tranquilly; but 
is it a small thing to obtain a sound state of moral 
and physical health and to escape the danger of 
dreams, while solving by work the question of 
finding the greatest happiness possible on this earth? 

'I have always, I admit, distrusted chimeras. 
Nothing is less wholesome for men and nations than 
illusion; it stifles effort, it blinds, it is the vanity of 



NON-ACTING 147 

the weak. To repose on legends, to be mistaken 
about all realities, to believe that it is enough to 
dream of force in order to be strong we have seen 
well enough to what terrible disasters such things 
lead. The people are told to look on high, to 
believe in a Higher Power, and to exalt themselves 
to the ideal. No, no! That is language which at 
times seems to me impious. The only strong people 
are those who work, and it is only work that gives 
courage and faith. To conquer it is necessary that 
the arsenals should be full, that one should have 
the strongest and the most perfect armament, that 
the army should be trained, should have confidence 
in its chiefs and in itself. All this can be acquired; 
it needs but the will and the right method. You 
may be well assured that the coming century and 
the illimitable future belong to work. And in the 
rising force of Socialism does one not already see 
the rough sketch of the social law of to-morrow, the 
law of work for all liberating and pacifying work? 
'Young men, young men, take up your duties! 
Let each one accept his task, a task which should 
fill his life. It may be very humble, it will not be 
the less useful. Never mind what it is so long as 
it exists and keeps you erect! When you have 
regulated it, without excess just the quantity you 
are able to accomplish each day it will cause you 
to live in health and in joy: it will save you from 
the torments of the Infinite. What a healthy and 
great society that will be a society each member 
of which will bear his reasonable share of work ! 
A man who works is always kind. So I am con- 
vinced that the only faith that can save us is a 
belief in the efficacy of accomplished toil. Certainly 
it is pleasant to dream of eternity. But for an honest 
man it is enough to have lived his life doing his 
work. EMILE ZOLA.' 



148 NON-ACTING 

M. Zola does not approve of this faith in some- 
thing vague and ill-defined, which is recommended 
to French youth by its new guides; yet he himself 
advises belief in something which is neither clearer 
nor better defined namely, science and work. 

A little-known Chinese philosopher named Lao- 
Tsze, who founded a religion (the first and best 
translation of his book, 'Of the Way of Virtue', is 
that by Stanislaus Julien) , takes as the foundation 
of his doctrine the Tao a word that is translated 
as 'reason, way, and virtue'. If men follow the law 
of Tao they will be happy. But the Tao, according 
to M. Julien's translation, can only be reached by 
non-acting. 

The ills of humanity arise, according to Lao- 
Tsze, not because men neglect to do things that 
are necessary, but because they do things that are 
unnecessary. If men would, as he says, but practise 
non-acting, they would be relieved not merely from 
their personal calamities, but also from those in- 
herent in all forms of government, which is the sub- 
ject specially dealt with by the Chinese philosopher. 

M. Zola tells us that everyone should work 
persistently; work will make life healthy and joyous, 
and will save us from the torment of the Infinite. 
Work! But what are we to work at? The manu- 
facturers of and the dealers in opium or tobacco or 
brandy, all the speculators on the Stock Exchange, 
the inventors and manufacturers of weapons of 
destruction, the mf'tary, the gaolers and execu- 
tioners all work: but it is obvious that mankind 
would be better off were these workers to cease 
working. 

But perhaps M. Zola's advice refers only to those 
whose work is inspired by science. The greater 
part of his speech is in fact designed to uphold 
science, which he thinks is being attacked. Well, 



NON-ACTING 149 

it so happens that I am continually receiving from 
various unappreciated authors the outcome of their 
scientific labours pamphlets, manuscripts, trea- 
tises, and printed books. 

One of them has finally solved, so he says, the 
question of Christian gnosiology; another has 
written a book on the cosmic ether; a third has 
settled the social question; a fourth is editing a 
theosophical review; a fifth (in a thick volume) has 
solved the problem of the knight's tour in chess. 

All these people work assiduously and work in 
the name of science, but I do not think I am mis- 
taken in saying that my correspondents' time and 
work, and the time and work of many other such 
people, have been spent in a way not merely use- 
less but even harmful; for thousands of men are 
engaged in making the paper, casting the type, and 
manufacturing the presses needed to print their 
books, and in feeding, clothing, and housing all 
these scientific workers. 

Work for science? But the word 'science' has so 
large and so ill-defined a meaning that what some 
consider science others consider futile folly; and 
this is so not merely among the profane, but even 
among men who are themselves priests of science. 
While one set of the learned esteem jurisprudence, 
philosophy, and even theology, to be the most 
necessary and important of sciences, the Positivists 
consider those very sciences to be childish twaddle 
devoid of scientific value. And, vice versa, what 
the Positivists hold to be the science of sciences 
sociology is regarded by the theologians, philo- 
sophers, and spiritualists as a collection of arbitrary 
and useless observations and assertions. Moreover 
even in one and the same branch, whether it be 
philosophy or natural science, each system has its 
ardent defenders and opponents, just as ardent and 



150 NON-ACTING 

equally competent, though maintaining diametri- 
cally opposite views. 

Lastly, does not each year produce its new 
scientific discoveries, which after astonishing the 
boobies of the whole world and bringing fame and 
fortune to the inventors, are eventually admitted 
to be ridiculous mistakes even by those who pro- 
mulgated them? 

We all know that what the Romans valued as the 
greatest science and the most important occupation 
that distinguished them from the barbarians was 
rhetoric, which does not now rank as a science at 
all. It is equally difficult to-day to understand the 
state of mind of the learned men of the Middle Ages 
who were fully convinced that all science was con- 
centrated in scholasticism. 

Unless then our century forms an exception 
(which is a supposition we have no right to make), 
it needs no great boldness to conclude by analogy 
that among the kinds of knowledge occupying the 
attention of our learned men and called science, 
there must necessarily be some which will be 
regarded by our descendants much as we now 
regard the rhetoric of the ancients and the 
scholasticism of the Middle Ages. 

II 

M. Zola's speech is chiefly directed against cer- 
tain leaders who are persuading the young genera- 
tion to return to religious beliefs, for M. Zola, as a 
champion of science, considers himself an adversary 
of theirs. Really he is nothing of the sort, for his 
reasoning rests on the same basis as that of his 
opponents, namely (as he himself admits), on faith. 

It is a generally accepted opinion that religion 
and science are opposed to one another. And they 
really are so, but only in point of time; that is to 



NON-ACTING 151 

say, what is considered science by one generation 
often becomes religion for their descendants. Wha! 
is usually spoken of as religion is generally the 
science of the past, while what is called science is to 
a great extent the religion of the present. 

We say that the assertions of the Hebrews that 
the world was created in six days, that sons vould 
be punished for their father's sins, and that certain 
diseases could be cured by the sight of a serpent, 
were religious statements; while the assertions of 
our contemporaries that the world created itself 
by turning round a centre which is eve/y where, 
that all the different species arose from th; struggle 
for existence, that criminals are the product of 
heredity, and that micro-organisms, slaped like 
commas, exist which cause certain dseases we 
call scientific statements. By revertingin imagina- 
tion to the state of mind of an anciert Hebrew it 
becomes easy to see that for him the c cation of the 
world in six days, the serpent that cired diseases, 
and the like, were scientific statemnts in accord 
with its highest stage of development, just as the 
Darwinian law, Koch's commas, heredity, &c., are 
for a man of our day. 

And just as the Hebrew believe' not so much in 
the creation of the world in six d#s, in the serpent 
that healed certain diseases, anc so on, as in the 
infallibility of his priests and therefore in all that 
they told him so to-day the great majority of 
cultured people believe, not in ne formation of the 
world by rotation, or in herediy, or in the comma 
bacilli, but in the infallibility >f the secular priests 
called scientists who, with a assurance equal to 
that of the Hebrew priests, assert whatever they 
pretend to know. 

I will even go so far as tosay that if the ancient 
priests, controlled by none bit their own colleagues, 



1 52 NON-ACTING 

allowed themselves at times to diverge from the 
path of truth merely for the pleasure of astonishing 
End mystifying their public, our modern priests 
o? science do much the same thing and do it with 
equal effrontery. 

7he greater part of what is called religion is 
simply the superstition of past ages; the greater 
part of what is called science is simply the super- 
stitioi of to-day. And I suppose that the propor- 
tion 01 error and truth is much about the same in 
the om as in the other. Consequently to work 
in the rame of a faith, whether religious or scienti- 
fic, is n%t merely a doubtful method of helping 
humanity but is a dangerous method which may 
do more iarm than good. 

To conecrate one's life to the fulfilment of 
duties imp%sed by religion prayers, communions, 
alms or ox the other hand to devote it to some 
scientific w<rk as M. Zola advises, is to run too 
great a risk : br on the brink of death one may find 
that the religious or scientific principle to whose 
service one his consecrated one's whole life was 
all a ridiculou error ! 

Even before eading the speech in which M. Zola 
extols work of my kind as a merit, I was always 
surprised by tk opinion, especially prevalent in 
Western Europe that work is a kind of virtue. It 
always seemed tcme that only an irrational being, 
like the ant of he fable, could be excused for 
exalting work to tie rank of a virtue and boasting 
of it. M. Zola asures us that work makes men 
kind; I have alwa-s observed the contrary. Not 
to speak of selfish /vork aiming at the profit or 
fame of the worke, which is always bad, self- 
conscious work, the jide of work, makes not only 
ants but men cruel. Vho does not know those men, 
inaccessible to truth or to kindliness, who are 



NON-ACTING 153 

always so busy that they never have time either to 
do good or even to ask themselves whether their 
work is not harmful? You say to such people, 'Your 
work is useless, perhaps even harmful. Here are 
the reasons. Pause awhile and let us examine the 
matter.' They will not listen to you, but scornfully 
reply: 'It's all very well for you to argue. You 
have nothing to do. But what time have I for 
discussions? I have worked all my life, and work 
does not wait; I have to edit a daily paper with 
half a million subscribers; I have to organize the 
army; I have to build the Eiffel Tower, to arrange 
the Chicago Exhibition, to pierce the Isthmus of 
Panama, to investigate the problem of heredity or 
of telepathy, or of how many times this classical 
author has used such and such words.' 

The most cruel of men the Neros, the Peter the 
Greats were constantly occupied, never remaining 
for a moment at their own disposal without activity 
or amusement. 

If work be not actually a vice, it can from no 
point of view be considered a virtue. 

It can no more be considered a virtue than 
nutrition. Work is a necessity, to be deprived of 
which involves suffering, and to raise it to the rank 
of a merit is as monstrous as it would be to do 
the same for nutrition. The strange value our 
society attaches to work can only be explained as 
a reaction from the view held by our ancestors, 
who thought idleness an attribute of nobility and 
almost a merit, as indeed it is still regarded by 
some rich and uneducated people to-day. 

Work, the exercise of our organs, cannot be a 
merit, because it is a necessity for every man and 
every animal as is shown alike by the capers of 
a tethered calf and by the silly exercises to which 
rich and well-fed people among ourselves are 



154 NON- ACTING 

addicted, who find no more reasonable or useful 
employment for their mental faculties than reading 
newspapers and novels Or playing chess or cards, 
or for their muscles than gymnastics, fencing, lawn- 
tennis, and racing. 

In my opinion not only is work not a virtue, but 
in our ill-organized society it is often a moral 
anaesthetic, like tobacco, wine, and other means 
of stupefying and blinding oneself to the disorder 
and emptiness of our lives. And it is just as such 
that M. Zola recommends it to young people. 

Dumas says something quite different. 

Ill 

The following is the letter he sent to the editor 
of the Gaulois : 

'DEAR SIR, 

'You ask my opinion of the aspirations which 
seem to be arising among the students in the schools, 
and of the polemics which preceded and followed 
the incidents at the Sorbonne. 

*I should prefer not to express my opinion further 
on any matter whatever. Those who were of our 
opinion will continue to be so for some time yet; 
those who held other views will cling to them more 
and more tenaciously. It would be better to have 
no discussions. "Opinions are like nails," said a 
moralist, a friend of mine: "the more one hits them 
the more one drives them in." 

'It is not that I have no opinion on what one 
calls the great questions of life, and on the diverse 
forms in which the mind of man momentarily 
clothes the subjects of which it treats. Rather, that 
opinion is so correct and absolute that I prefer to 
keep it for my own guidance, having no ambition 
to create anything or to destroy anything. I 



NON-ACTING 155 

should have to go back to great political, social, 
philosophical and religious problems, and that 
would take us too far, were I to follow you in the 
study you are commencing of the small external 
occurrences they have lately aroused, and that they 
arouse in each new generation. Each new genera- 
tion indeed comes with ideas and passions old as 
life itself, which it believes no one has ever had 
before, for it finds itself subject to their influence 
for the first time and is convinced it is about to 
change the aspect of everything. 

'Humanity for thousands of years has been trying 
to solve that great problem of cause and effect which 
will perhaps take thousands of years yet to settle, if 
indeed it ever is settled (as I think it should be). 
Of this problem children of twenty declare that 
they have an irrefutable solution in their quite 
young heads. And as a first argument, at the first 
discussion, one sees them hitting those who do not 
share their opinions. Are we to conclude that this is 
a sign that a whole society is readopting the religious 
ideal which has been temporarily obscured and 
abandoned? Or is it not, with all these young 
apostles, simply a physiological question of warm 
blood and vigorous muscles, such as threw the young 
generation of twenty years ago into the opposite 
movement? I incline to the latter supposition. 

'He would indeed be foolish who in these mani- 
festations of an exuberant period of life found proof 
of development that was final or even durable. 
There is in it nothing more than an attack of 
growing fever. Whatever the ideas may be for the 
sake of which these young people have been hitting 
one another, we may safely wager that they will 
resist them at some future day if their own children 
reproduce them. Age and experience will have 
come by that time. 



154 NON-ACTING 

addicted, who find no more reasonable or useful 
employment for their mental faculties than reading 
newspapers and novels 6r playing chess or cards, 
or for their muscles than gymnastics, fencing, lawn- 
tennis, and racing. 

In my opinion not only is work not a virtue, but 
in our ill-organized society it is often a moral 
anaesthetic, like tobacco, wine, and other means 
of stupefying and blinding oneself to the disorder 
and emptiness of our lives. And it is just as such 
that M. Zola recommends it to young people. 

Dumas says something quite different. 

Ill 

The following is the letter he sent to the editor 
of the Gaulois: 

'DEAR SIR, 

'You ask my opinion of the aspirations which 
seem to be arising among the students in the schools, 
and of the polemics which preceded and followed 
the incidents at the Sorbonne. 

'I should prefer not to express my opinion further 
on any matter whatever. Those who were of our 
opinion will continue to be so for some time yet; 
those who held other views will cling to them more 
and more tenaciously. It would be better to have 
no discussions. "Opinions are like nails," said a 
moralist, a friend of mine: "the more one hits them 
the more one drives them in." 

'It is not that I have no opinion on what one 
calls the great questions of life, and on the diverse 
forms in which the mind of man momentarily 
clothes the subjects of which it treats. Rather, that 
opinion is so correct and absolute that I prefer to 
keep it for my own guidance, having no ambition 
to create anything or to destroy anything. I 



NON-ACTING 155 

should have to go back to great political, social, 
philosophical and religious problems, and that 
would take us too far, were I to follow you in the 
study you are commencing of the small external 
occurrences they have lately aroused, and that they 
arouse in each new generation. Each new genera- 
tion indeed comes with ideas and passions old as 
life itself, which it believes no one has ever had 
before, for it finds itself subject to their influence 
for the first time and is convinced it is about to 
change the aspect of everything. 

'Humanity for thousands of years has been trying 
to solve that great problem of cause and effect which 
will perhaps take thousands of years yet to settle, if 
indeed it ever is settled (as I think it should be). 
Of this problem children of twenty declare that 
they have an irrefutable solution in their quite 
young heads. And as a first argument, at the first 
discussion, one sees them hitting those who do not 
share their opinions. Are we to conclude that this is 
a sign that a whole society is readopting the religious 
ideal which has been temporarily obscured and 
abandoned? Or is it not, with all these young 
apostles, simply a physiological question of warm 
blood and vigorous muscles, such as threw the young 
generation of twenty years ago into the opposite 
movement? I incline to the latter supposition. 

'He would indeed be foolish who in these mani- 
festations of an exuberant period of life found proof 
of development that was final or even durable. 
There is in it nothing more than an attack of 
growing fever. Whatever the ideas may be for the 
sake of which these young people have been hitting 
one another, we may safely wager that they will 
resist them at some future day if their own children 
reproduce them. Age and experience will have 
come by that time. 



I 5 6 NON-ACTING 

'Sooner or later many of these combatants and 
adversaries of to-day will meet on the cross-roads 
of life, somewhat wearied, somewhat dispirited by 
their struggle with realities, and hand-in-hand will 
find their way back to the main road, regretfully 
acknowledging that, in spite of all their early con- 
victions, the world remains round and continues 
always turning in one and the same direction, and 
that the same horizons ever reappear under the 
same infinite and fixed sky. After having disputed 
and fought to their hearts' content, some in the 
name of faith, others in the name of science, both 
to prove there is a God, and to prove there is no 
God (two propositions about which one might 
fight for ever should it be decided not to disarm 
till the case was proven), they will finally discover 
that the one knows no more about it than the other, 
but that what they may all be sure of is, that man 
needs hope as much if not more than he needs 
knowledge that he suffers abominably from the 
uncertainty he is in concerning the things of most 
interest to him, that he is ever in quest of a better 
state than that in which he now exists, and that he 
should be left at full liberty, especially in the realms 
of philosophy, to seek this happier condition. 

'He sees around him a universe which existed 
before he did and will last after he is gone; he feels 
and knows it to be eternal and he would like to 
share in its duration. From the moment he was 
called to life he demanded his share of the perma- 
nent life that surrounds him, raises him, mocks 
him, and destroys him. Now that he has begun he 
does not wish to end. He now loudly demands, now 
in low tones pleads for, a certainty which ever 
evades him fortunately, since certain knowledge 
would mean for him immobility and death, for 
the most powerful motor of human energy is un- 



NON-ACTING 157 

certainty. And as he cannot reach certainty he 
wanders to and fro in the vague ideal; and what- 
ever excursions he may make into scepticism and 
negation, whether from pride, curiosity, anger, or 
for fashion's sake, he ever returns to the hope he 
certainly cannot forgo. Like lovers' quarrels, it is 
not for long. 

'So there are at times obscurations, but never 
any complete obliteration of the human ideal. 
Philosophical mists pass over it like clouds that 
pass before the moon ; . but the white orb, con- 
tinuing its course, suddenly reappears from behind 
them intact and shining. Man's irresistible need 
of an ideal explains why he has accepted with such 
confidence, such rapture, and without reason's con- 
trol, the various religious formulas which, while 
promising him the Infinite, have presented it to 
him conformably with his nature, enclosing it in 
the limits always necessary even to the ideal. 

'But for centuries past, and especially during the 
last hundred years, at each new stage new men, 
more and more numerous, emerge from the dark- 
ness, and in the name of reason, science, or observa- 
tion, dispute the old truths, declare them to be 
relative, and wish to destroy the formulas which 
contain them. 

'Who is in the right in this dispute? All are right 
while they seek; none are right when they begin 
to threaten. Between truth which is the aim, and 
free inquiry to which all have a right, force is 
quite out of place notwithstanding celebrated 
examples to the contrary. Force merely drives 
farther back that at which we aim. It is not merely 
cruel, it is also useless, and that is the worst of 
faults in all that concerns civilization. No blows, 
however forcibly delivered, will ever prove the 
existence or the non-existence of God. 



158 NON- ACTING 

'To conclude, or rather to come to an end seeing 
that the Power, whatever it be, that created the 
world (which, I think, certainly cannot have 
created itself) while using us as its instruments has 
for the present reserved to itself the privilege of 
knowing why it has made us and whither it is 
leading us seeing that this Power (in spite of all 
the intentions attributed to it and all the demands 
made upon it) appears ever more and more deter- 
mined to guard its own secret I believe, if I may 
say all I think, that mankind is beginning to cease 
to try to penetrate that eternal mystery. Mankind 
went to religions, which proved nothing for they 
differed among themselves; it went to philosophies, 
which revealed no more for they contradicted one 
another; and it will now try to find its way out of 
the difficulty by itself, trusting to its own instinct 
and its own simple good sense; and since mankind 
finds itself here on earth without knowing why or 
how, it is going to try to be as happy as it can with 
just those means the earth supplies. 

'Zola recently, in a remarkable address to 
students, recommended to them work as a remedy 
and even as a panacea for all the ills of life. Labor 
improbus omnia vincit. The remedy is familiar, nor 
is it less good on that account; but it is not, never 
has been, and never will be, sufficient. Whether 
he works with limbs or brain, man must have some 
other aim than that of gaining his bread, making 
a fortune, or becoming famous. Those who confine 
themselves to such aims feel, even when they have 
gained their object, that something is still lacking, 
for no matter what we may say or what we may 
be told, man has not only a body to be nourished, 
an intelligence to be cultivated and developed, but 
also assuredly a soul to be satisfied. That soul, too, 
is incessantly at work, ever evolving towards light 



NON-ACTING 159 

and truth. And as long as it has not reached full 
light and conquered the whole truth it will con- 
tinue to torment man. 

'Well! The soul never so harassed man, never 
so dominated him, as it does to-day. It is as though 
it were in the air we all breathe. The few isolated 
souls that had separately desired the regeneration 
of society have little by little sought one another 
out, beckoned one another, drawn nearer, united, 
comprehended one another, and formed a group, 
a centre of attraction, towards which others now 
fly from the four quarters of the globe like larks 
towards a mirror. They have as it were formed 
one collective soul, so that men in future may 
realize together, consciously and irresistibly, the 
approaching union and steady progress of nations 
that were but recently hostile to one another. This 
new soul I find and recognize in events seemingly 
most calculated to deny it, 

'These armaments of all nations, these threats 
their representatives address to one another, this 
recrudescence of race persecutions, these hostilities 
among compatriots, and even these youthful 
escapades at the Sorbonne, are all things of evil 
aspect but not of evil augury. They are the last 
convulsions of that which is about to disappear. 
The social body is like the human body. Disease 
is but a violent effort of the organism to throw off 
a morbid and harmful element. 

'Those who have profited, and expect for long 
or for ever to continue to profit by the mistakes 
of the past, are uniting to prevent any modification 
of existing conditions. Hence these armaments 
and threats and persecutions; but look carefully 
and you will see that all this is quite superficial. 
It is colossal but hollow. There is no longer any 
soul in it the soul has gone elsewhere; these 



160 NON-ACTING 

millions of armed men who are daily drilled to 
prepare for a general war of extermination no 
longer hate the men they are expected to fight, and 
none of their leaders dares to proclaim this war. 
As for the appeals, and even the threatening claims, 
that rise from the suffering and the oppressed a 
great and sincere pity, recognizing their justice, 
begins at last to respond from above. 

'Agreement is inevitable, and will come at an 
appointed time, nearer than is expected. I know 
not if it be because I shall soon leave this earth 
and the rays that are already reaching me from 
below the horizon have disturbed my sight, but 
I believe our world is about to begin to realize 
the words, "Love one another," without however 
being concerned whether a man or a God uttered 
them. 

'The spiritual movement one recognizes on all 
sides and which so many naive and ambitious men 
expect to be able to direct, will be absolutely 
humanitarian. Mankind, which does nothing 
moderately, is about to be seized with a frenzy, a 
madness, of love. This will not of course happen 
smoothly or all at once; it will involve misunder- 
standings even sanguinary ones perchance so 
trained and so accustomed have we been to hatred, 
sometimes even by those whose mission it was to 
teach us to love one another. But it is evident that 
this great law of brotherhood must be accomplished 
some day, and I am convinced that the time is 
commencing when our desire for its accomplish- 
ment will become irresistible. A. DUMAS. 

1 June /, 1893.* 

There is a great difference between Dumas's letter 
and Zola's speech, not to mention the fact that 
Zola seems to court the approval of the youths he 



NON-ACTING 161 

addresses, whereas Dumas's letter does not flatter 
them or tell them they are important people and 
that everything depends on them (which they 
should never believe if they wish to be good for 
anything) ; on the contrary, it points out to them 
their habitual faults: their presumption and their 
levity. The chief difference between these two 
writings consists in the fact that Zola's speech aims 
at keeping men in the path they are travelling, by 
making them believe that what they know is just 
what they need to know, and that what they are 
doing is just what they ought to be doing whereas 
Dumas's letter shows them that they ignore what 
is essential for them to know and do not live as 
they ought to live. 

The more fully men believe that humanity can 
be led in spite of itself to a beneficial change in 
its existence by some external self-acting force 
(whether religion or science) and that they need 
only work in the established order of things the 
more difficult will it be to accomplish any beneficial 
change, and it is chiefly in this respect that Zola's 
speech errs. 

On the contrary, the more fully men believe that 
it depends on themselves to modify their mutual 
relations, and that they can do this when they like 
by loving each other instead of tearing each other 
to pieces as they do at present the more possible 
will a change become. The more fully men let 
themselves be influenced by this suggestion the 
more will they be drawn to realize Dumas's pre- 
diction. That is the great merit of his letter. 

Dumas belongs to no party and to no religion : he 
has as little faith in the superstitions of the past as 
in those of to-day, and that is why he observes and 
thinks and sees not only the present but the future 
as those did who in ancient times were called 



1 62 NON- ACTING 

seers. It will seem strange to those who in reading 
a writer's works see only the contents of the book 
and not the soul of the writer, that Dumas the 
author of La Dame aux Camelias, and of V Affaire 
Clemenceau that this same Dumas should see into 
the future and should prophesy. But however 
strange it may seem, prophecy making itself heard 
not in the desert or on the banks of the Jordan from 
the mouth of a hermit clothed in skins of beasts 
but published in a daily paper on the banks of the 
Seine, remains none the less prophecy. 

And Dumas's letter has all the characteristics of 
prophecy: First, like all prophecy, it runs quite 
counter to the general disposition of the people 
among whom it makes itself heard; secondly, those 
who hear it feel its truth they know not why; and 
thirdly and chiefly it moves men to the realization 
of what it foretells. 

Dumas predicts that after having tried everything 
else men will seriously apply to life the law of 
brotherly love, and that this change will take place 
much sooner than we expect. One may question 
the nearness of this change or even its possibility, 
but it is plain that should it take place it will solve 
all contradictions and all difficulties, and will divert 
all the evils with which the end of the century sees 
us threatened. 

The only objection, or rather the only question, 
one can put to Dumas is this : 'If the love of one's 
neighbour is possible and is inherent in human 
nature, why have so many thousand years elapsed 
(for the command to love God and one's neighbour 
did not begin with Christ but had been given 
already by Moses) without men who knew this 
means of happiness having practised it? What 
prevents the manifestation of a sentiment so natural 
and so helpful to humanity? It is evidently not 



NON-ACTING 163 

enough to say, 'Love one another.' That has been 
said for three thousand years past: it is incessantly 
repeated from all pulpits, religious and even 
secular; yet, instead of loving one another as they 
have been bidden to do for so many centuries, men 
continue to exterminate each other just the same. 
In our day no one any longer doubts th.it if men 
would help one another instead of tearing one 
another to pieces each seeking his own welfare, 
that of his family, or that of his country if they 
would replace egotism by love, if they would 
organize their life on collectivist instead of indi- 
vidualist principles (as the socialists express it in 
their wretched jargon), if they loved one another 
as they love themselves, or if they even refrained 
from doing to others what they do not wish to 
have done to themselves (as has been well ex- 
pressed for two thousand years past) the share of 
personal happiness gained by each man would 
be greater and human life in general would be 
reasonable and happy instead of being what it 
now is, a succession of contradictions and suffer- 
ings. 

No one doubts that if men continue to snatch 
from one another the ownership of the soil and the 
products of their labour, the revenge of those who 
are deprived of the right to till the soil will not 
much longer be delayed, but the oppressed will 
retake with violence and vengeance all that of 
which they have been robbed. No one doubts that 
the arming of the nations will lead to terrible 
massacres and the ruin and degeneration of all the 
peoples enchained in the circle of armaments. No 
one doubts that if the present order of things con- 
tinues for some dozens of years longer it will lead 
to a general breakdown. We have but to open 
our eyes to see the abyss towards which we are 



164 NON-ACTING 

advancing. But the saying cited by Jesus seems 
realized among the men of to-day : they have ears 
that hear not, eyes that see not, and an intelligence 
that does not understand. 

Men of our day continue to live as they have 
lived, and do not cease to do things that must 
inevitably lead to their destruction. Moreover, 
men of our world recognize if not the religious law 
of love at least the moral rule of that Christian 
principle: not to do to others what one does not 
wish done to oneself; but they do not practise it. 
Evidently there is some greater reason that pre- 
vents their doing what is to their advantage, what 
would save them from menacing dangers, and 
what is dictated by the law of their God and by 
their conscience. Must it be said that love applied 
to life is a chimera? If so, how is it that for so 
many centuries men have allowed themselves to 
be deceived by this unrealizable dream? It were 
time to see through it. But mankind can neither 
decide to follow the law of love in daily life nor 
to abandon the idea. How is this to be explained? 
What is the reason of this contradiction lasting 
through centuries? It is not that the men of our 
time neither wish to, nor can, do what is dictated 
alike by their good sense, by the dangers of their 
situation, and above all by the law of him whom 
they call God, and by their conscience but it is 
because they act just as M. Zola advises: they are 
busy, they all labour at some work commenced 
long ago and in which it is impossible to pause to 
concentrate their thoughts or to consider what they 
ought to be. All the great revolutions in men's 
lives are made in thought. When a change takes 
place in man's thought, action follows the direction 
of thought as inevitably as a ship follows the direc- 
tion given by its rudder. 



NON-ACTING 165 

IV 

When he first preached, Jesus did not say, 'Love 
one another' (he taught love later on to his dis- 
ciples men who had understood his teaching), but 
he said what John the Baptist had preached before: 
repentance, ^rdvoia that is to say, a change in 
the conception of life. MerayoeZre change your 
view of life or you will all peiish, said he. The 
meaning of your life cannot consist in the pursuit of 
your personal well-being, or in that of your family 
or of your nation, lor such happiness can be ob- 
tained only at the expense of others. Realize that 
the meaning of your life can consist only in accom- 
plishing the will of him that sent you into this life 
and who demands of you not the pursuit of your 
personal interests but the accomplishment of his 
aims -the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven, 
as Jesus expressed it. 

Mera^oetre, said he, 1,900 years ago change 
your way of understanding life, or you will all 
perish; and he continues to repeat this to-day by 
all the contradictions and woes of our time, which 
all come from the fact that men have not listened 
to him and have not accepted the understanding 
of life he offered them. McTavoclrc, said he, or 
you will all perish, and the alternative remains 
the same to-day. The only difference is that now 
it is more pressing. If it were possible 2,000 years 
ago, in the time of the Roman Empire, in the days 
of Charles V, or even before the Revolution and 
the Napoleonic wars, not to see the vanity I 
will even say the absurdity of attempts made 
to obtain personal happiness, family happiness, 
or national happiness, by struggling against all 
those who sought the same personal, family, or 
national happiness that illusion has become quite 



i66 NON-ACTING 

impossible in our time for anyone who will pause 
if but for a moment from his occupations, and will 
reflect on what he is, on what the world around 
him is, and on what he ought to be. So if I were 
called on to give one single piece of advice, the 
one I considered most useful for men of our cen- 
tury, I should say this to them: 'For God's sake 
pause a moment, cease your work, look around 
you, think of what you are and of what you ought 
to be think of the ideal.' 

M. Zola says that people should not look on high, 
or believe in a Higher Power, or exalt themselves 
to the ideal. Probably M. Zola understands by 
the word 'ideal' either the supernatural that is to 
say, the theological rubbish about the Trinity, the 
Church, the Pope, &c. or else the unexplained, as 
he calls the forces of the vast world in which we 
are plunged. And in that case men would do well 
to follow M. Zola's advice. But the fact is that the 
ideal is neither supernatural nor 'unexplained'. 
On the contrary the ideal is the most natural of 
things; I will not say it is the most 'explained', but 
it is that of which man is most sure. 

An ideal in geometry is the perfectly straight 
line or the circle whose radii are all equal; in 
science it is exact truth; in morals it is perfect 
virtue. Though these things the straight line, the 
exact truth, and perfect virtue have never existed, 
they are not only more natural to us, more known 
and more explicable than all our other knowledge, 
but they are the only things we know truly and with 
complete certainty. 

It is commonly said that reality is that which 
exists, or that only what exists is real. Just the 
contrary is the case: true reality, that which we 
really know, is what has never existed. The ideal 
is the only thing we know with certainty, and it has 



NON-ACTING 167 

never existed. It is only thanks to the ideal that 
we know anything at all ; and that is why the ideal 
alone can guide us in our lives either individually 
or collectively. The Christian ideal has stood 
before us for nineteen centuries. It shines to-day 
with such intensity that it needs great effort to 
avoid seeing that all our woes arise from the fact 
that we do not accept its guidance. But the more 
difficult it becomes to avoid seeing this, the more 
some people increase their efforts to persuade us 
to do as they do: to close our eyes in order not to 
see. To be quite sure to reach port, they say, the 
first thing to do is to throw the compass overboard 
and forge ahead. Men of our Christian world are 
like people who strain themselves in the effort to 
get rid of some object that spoils life for them, but 
who in their hurry have no time to agree, and all 
pull in different directions. It would be enough 
to-day for man to pause in his activity and to 
reflect comparing the demands of his reason and 
his heart with the actual conditions of life in order 
to perceive that his whole life and all his actions 
are in incessant and glaring contradiction to his 
reason and his heart. Ask each man of our time 
separately what are the moral bases of his conduct, 
and he will almost always tell you that they are 
the principles of Christianity or at least of justice, 
And in saying so he will be sincere. According to 
their consciences all men should live as Christians ; 
but see how they behave: they behave like wild 
beasts. So that for the great majority of men in 
our Christian world the organization of their life 
corresponds not to their way of perceiving or feeling, 
but to certain forms once necessary for other people 
with quite different perceptions of life, and now 
existing merely because the constant bustle men 
live in allows them no time for reflection. 



1 68 NON-ACTING 



If in former times (when the evils produced by 
pagan life were not so evident, and especially when 
Christian principles were not yet so generally 
accepted) men were able conscientiously to uphold 
the servitude of the workers, the oppression of man 
by man, penal law, and, above all, war- it has now 
become quite impossible to explain the raison 
d'etre of such institutions. In our time men may 
continue to live a pagan life but they cannot 
excuse it. 

In order to change their way of living and feeling, 
men must first of all change their way of thinking; 
and that such a change may take place they must 
pause and attend to the things they ought to under- 
stand. To hear what is shouted to them by those 
who wish to save them, men who run towards a 
precipice singing must cease their clamour and 
must stop. 

Let men of our Christian world only stop their 
work and reflect for a moment on their condition, 
and they will involuntarily be led to accept the 
conception of life given by Christianity a con- 
ception so natural, so simple, and responding so 
completely to the needs of the mind and the heart 
of humanity that it will arise, almost of itself, in 
the understanding of anyone who has freed himself 
were it but for a moment from the entanglements 
in which he is held by the complications of work 
his own and that of others. 

The feast has been ready for nineteen centuries; 
but one will not come because he has just bought 
some land, another because he has married, a third 
because he has to try his oxen, a fourth because he 
is building a railway, a factory, is engaged on 
missionary service, is busy in Parliament, in a 



NON-ACTING 169 

bank, or on some scientific, artistic, or literary 
work. During 2,000 years no one has had leisure 
to do what Jesus advised at the beginning of his 
ministry: to look round him, think of the results 
of his work, and ask himself: What am I ? Why do 
I live? Is it possible that the power that has pro- 
duced me, a reasoning being with a desire to love 
and be loved, has done this only to deceive me, 
so that having imagined the aim of life to be my 
personal well-being that my life belonged to me 
and that I had the right to dispose of it, as well as 
of the lives of others, as seemed best to me I come 
at last to the conviction that this well-being that I 
aimed at (personal, family, or national) cannot be 
attained, and that the more I strive to reach it 
the more I find myself in conflict with my reason 
and my wish to love and be loved, and the more 
I experience disenchantment and suffering? 

Is it not more probable that, having come into 
the world not by my own will but by the will of 
him who sent me, my reason and my wish to love 
and be loved were given to guide me in doing that 
will? 

Once this /zeremua is accomplished in men's 
thought and the pagan and egotistic conception of 
life has been replaced by the Christian conception, 
the love of one's neighbour will become more 
natural than struggle and egotism now are. And 
once the love of one's neighbour becomes natural 
to man the new conditions of Christian life will 
come about spontaneously, just as the crystals 
begin to form in a liquid saturated with salt as soon 
as one ceases to stir it. 

And for this to result, and that men may organize 
their life in conformity with their consciences, they 
need expend no positive effort; they need only 
pause in what they are now doing. If men spent 



170 NON- ACTING 

but a hundredth part of the energy they now devote 
to material activities disapproved of by their own 
consciences to elucidating as completely as pos- 
sible the demands of that conscience, expressing 
them clearly, spreading them abroad, and above 
all putting them in practice, the change which 
M. Dumas and all the prophets have foretold 
would be accomplished among us much sooner and 
more easily than we suppose, and men would ac- 
quire the good that Jesus promised them in his 
glad tidings: 'Seek the Kingdom of Heaven, and 
all these things shall be added unto you.* 

[August 9, o.s., 1893.] 

Tolstoy wrote this essay first in Russian, and then 
(after a misleading translation had appeared in France) 
in French also. The second version differed in arrange- 
ment from the first, and has, at Tolstoy's own request, 
been relied upon in preparing the present translation. 
In a few places, however and especially by including 
Zola's speech and Dumas's letter in full the earlier 
version has been followed. A. M. 



AFTERWORD TO AN ACCOUNT OF 
RELIEF TO THE FAMINE-STRICKEN 
IN THE GOVERNMENT OF TtfLA IN 
1891 AND 1892 

OUR two years' experience in distributing among 
a suffering population contributions that passed 
through our hands have quite confirmed our long- 
established conviction that most of the want and 
destitution and the suffering and grief that go 
with them which we have tried almost in vain to 
counteract by external means in one small corner 
of Russia, has arisen not from some exceptional, 
temporary cause independent of us, but from general 
permanent causes quite dependent on us and con- 
sisting entirely in the antichristian, unbrotherly 
relations maintained by us educated people towards 
the poor simple labourers who constantly endure 
distress and want and the accompanying bitterness 
and suffering things that have merely been more 
conspicuous than usual during the past two years. 
If this year we do not hear of want, cold, and 
hunger of the dying-off by hundreds of thousands 
of adults worn out with overwork, and of underfed 
old people and children this is not because these 
things will not occur, but only because we shall 
not see them shall forget about them, shall assure 
ourselves that they do not exist, or that if they do 
they are inevitable and cannot be helped. 

But such assurances are untrue: not only is it 
possible for these things not to exist, but they 
ought not to exist, and the time is coming when they 
will not exist and that time is near. 

However well the wine cup may seem to us to be 
hidden from the labouring classes however art- 
ful, ancient, and generally accepted may be the 



172 AN AFTERWORD 

excuses wherewith we justify our life of luxury amid 
a working folk who, crushed with toil and under- 
icd, supply our luxury the light is penetrating 
more and more into our relations with the people, 
and we shall soon appear in the shameful and 
dangerous position of a criminal whom the un- 
expected dawn of day exposes on the scene of his 
crime. If a dealer disposing of harmful or worthless 
goods among the working folk and trying to charge 
as much as possible or disposing even of good and 
needful bread, but bread which he had bought 
cheap and was selling dear could formerly have 
said he was serving the needs of the people by 
honest trade ; or if a manufacturer of cotton prints, 
looking-glasses, cigarettes, spirits, or beer could 
say that he was feeding his workmen by giving 
them employment; or if an official receiving hun- 
dreds of pounds a year salary collected in taxes 
from the people's last pence, could assure himself 
that he was working for the people's good; or (a 
thing specially noticeable these last years in the 
famine-stricken districts) if formerly a landlord 
could say (to peasants who worked his land for less 
pay than would buy them bread, or to those who 
hired land of him at rack-rent) that by introducing 
improved methods of agriculture he was promoting 
the prosperity of the rural population : if all this 
were formerly possible, now at least, when people 
are dying of hunger for lack of bread amid wide 
acres belonging to landlords and planted with 
potatoes intended for distilling spirits or making 
starch these things can no longer be said. It has 
become impossible, surrounded by people who 
are dying out for want of food and from excess of 
work, not to see that all we consume of the product 
of their work, on the one hand deprives them of 
what they need for food and on the other hand 



AN AFTERWORD 173 

increases the work which already taxes their 
strength to the utmost. Not to speak of the in- 
sensate luxury of parks, conservatories, and hunting, 
every glass of wine, every bit of sugar, butter, or 
meat is so much food taken from the people and 
so much labour added to their task. 

We Russians are specially well situated for seeing 
our position clearly. I remember, long before 
these famine years, how a young and morally sensi- 
tive savant from Prague who visited me in the 
country in winter on coming out of the hut of 
a comparatively well-to-do peasant at which we 
had called and in which, as everywhere, there was 
an overworked, prematurely aged woman in rags, 
a sick child who had ruptured itself while scream- 
ing, and, as everywhere in spring, a tethered calf 
and a ewe that had lambed, and dirt and damp, 
and foul air, and a dejected, careworn peasant 
I remember how, on coming out of the hut, my 
young acquaintance began to say something to me, 
when suddenly his voice broke and he wept. For 
the first time, after some months spent in Moscow 
and Petersburg where he had walked along 
asphalted pavements, past luxurious shops, from 
one rich house to another, and from one rich 
museum, library, or palace to other similar grand 
buildings he saw for the first time those whose 
labour supplies all that luxury, and he was amazed 
and horrified. To him, in rich and educated 
Bohemia (as to every man of Western Europe, 
especially to a Swede, a Swiss, or a Belgian), it 
might seem (though incorrectly) that where com- 
parative liberty exists where education is general, 
where everyone has a chance to enter the ranks 
of the educated luxury is a legitimate reward of 
labour and does not destroy human life. He might 
manage to forget the successive generations of men 



174 AN AFTERWORD 

who mine the coal by the use of which most of the 
articles of our luxury are produced, he might 
forget since they are out of sight the men of 
other races in the colonies, who die out working to 
satisfy our whims; but we Russians cannot share 
such thoughts: the connexion between our luxury 
and the sufferings and' deprivations of men of the 
same race as ourselves is too evident. We cannot 
avoid seeing the price paid in human lives for our 
comfort and our luxury. 

For us the sun has risen and we cannot hide what 
is obvious. We can no longer hide behind govern- 
ment, behind the necessity of ruling the people, 
behind science, or art said to be necessary for the 
people or behind the sacred rights of property 
or the necessity of upholding the traditions of our 
forefathers, and so forth. The sun has risen, and 
these transparent veils no longer hide anything 
from anyone. Everyone sees and knows that those 
who serve the government do so not for the welfare 
of the people (who never asked for their service), 
but simply because they want their salaries; and 
that people engaged on science and art are so 
engaged not to enlighten the people but for pay 
and pensions: and that those who withhold land 
from the people and raise its price, do this not to 
maintain any sacred rights but to increase the 
incomes they require to satisfy their own caprices. 
To hide this and to lie is no longer possible. 

Only two paths are open to the governing classes 
the rich and the non-workers: one way is to 
repudiate not only Christianity in its true meaning, 
but hurnanitarianisrn, justice, and everything like 
them, and to say: *I hold these privileges and 
advantages and come what may I mean to keep 
them. Whoever wishes to take them from me will 
have me to reckon with. The power is in my hands : 



AN AFTERWORD 175 

the soldiers, the gallows, the prisons, the scourge, 
and the courts.' 

The other way is to confess our fault, to cease 
to lie, to repent, and to go to the assistance of the 
people not with words only, or as has been done 
during these last two years with pence that have 
first been wrung from them at the cost of pain and 
suffering, but by breaking down the artificial 
barrier existing between us and the working people 
and acknowledging them to be our brothers not 
in words but in deeds : altering our way of life, re- 
nouncing the advantages and privileges we possess, 
and, having renounced them, standing on an equal 
footing with the people, and together with them 
obtaining those blessings of government, science, and 
civilization which we now seek to supply them 
with from outside without consulting their wishes. 

We stand at the parting of the ways and a choice 
must be made. 

The first path involves condemning oneself to 
perpetual falsehood, to continual fear that our lies 
may be exposed, and to the consciousness that 
sooner or later we shall inevitably be ousted from 
the position to which we have so obstinately clung. 

The second path involves the voluntary accep- 
tance and practice of what we already profess and 
of what is demanded by our heart and our reason 
of what sooner or later will be accomplished if not 
by us then by others for in this renunciation of 
their power by the powerful lies the only possible 
escape from the ills our pseudo-Christian world is 
enduring. Escape lies only through the renunciation 
of a false and the confession of a true Christianity. 

[October 28, o.s., 1893.] 

This Afterword, written by Tolst6y as a conclusion to 
his Account relating to the famine of 1891 and 1892, was 
suppressed in Russia at that time. A. M. 



MODERN SCIENCE 1 

> Aoyos* ioo$ avriKelrai.* 



T THINK this article of Carpenter's on Modern 
JL Science should be particularly useful in Russian 
society, where more than anywhere else in Europe, 
there is a prevalent and deeply rooted supersti- 
tion which considers that humanity does not need 
the diffusion of true religious and moral knowledge 
for its welfare, but only the study of experimental 
science, and that such science will satisfy all the 
spiritual demands of mankind. 

It is evident how harmful an influence (quite 
like that of religious superstition) so gross a 
superstition must have on man's moral life. And 
therefore the publication of the thoughts of writers 
who treat experimental science and its method 
critically is specially desirable in our society. 

Carpenter shows that neither astronomy, nor 
physics, nor chemistry, nor biology, nor sociology 
supplies us with true knowledge of actual facts; that 
all the laws discovered by those sciences are merely 
generalizations having but an approximate value 
as laws, and that only as long as we do not know, or 
leave out of account, certain other factors; and that 
even these laws seem laws to us only because we 
discover them in a region so far away from us in 
time and space that we cannot detect their non- 
correspondence with actual fact. 

Moreover Carpenter points out that the method 
of science which consists in explaining things near 

1 Written as preface to a Russian translation, by Count 
Scrgius Tolstoy, of Edward Carpenter's essay, Modern Science: 
a Criticism) which forms part of Civilization: its Cause and Cure. 
A.M. 

2 To every argument an equal argument is matched. 



MODERN SCIENCE 177 

and important to us by things more remote and 
indifferent, is a false method which can never 
bring us to the desired result. 

He says that every science tries to explain the 
facts it is investigating by means of conceptions 
of a lower order. 'Each science has been as far 
as possible reduced to its lowest terms. Ethics has 
been made a question of utility and inherited 
experience. Political economy has been exhausted 
of all conceptions of justice between man and man, 
of charity, affection, and the instinct of solidarity, 
and has been founded on its lowest discoverable 
factor, namely, self-interest. Biology has been 
denuded of the force of personality in plants, 
animals, and men; the "self" here has been set 
aside and an attempt made to reduce the science 
to a question of chemical and cellular affinities, 
protoplasm, and the laws of osmose. Chemical 
affinities again, and all the wonderful phenomena 
of physics are reduced to a flight of atoms; and the 
flight of atoms (and of astronomic orbs as well) is 
reduced to the laws of dynamics. 5 

It is supposed that the reduction of questions of 
a higher order to questions of a lower order will 
explain the former. But an explanation is never 
obtained in this way. What happens is merely that, 
descending ever lower and lower in one's investiga- 
tions, from the most important questions to less 
important ones, science reaches at last a sphere 
quite foreign to man, with which he is barely in 
touch, and confines its attention to that sphere, 
leaving all unsolved the questions most important 
to him. 

It is as if a man, wishing to understand the use 
of an object lying before him instead of coming 
close to it, examining it from all sides and handling 
it were to retire farther and farther from it until 



178 MODERN SCIENCE 

he was at such a distance that all its peculiarities 
of colour and inequalities of surface had disap- 
peared and only its outline was still visible against 
the horizon ; and as if from there he were to begin 
writing a minute description of the object, imagin- 
ing that now at last he clearly understood it, and 
that this understanding, formed at such a distance, 
would assist a complete comprehension of it. It 
is this self-deception that is partly exposed by 
Carpenter's criticism, which shows first that the 
knowledge afforded us by the natural sciences 
amounts merely to convenient generalizations 
which certainly do not express actual facts; and 
secondly that facts of a higher order will never be 
explained by reducing them to facts of a lower 
order. 

But without predetermining the question whether 
experimental science will, or will not, by its 
methods, ever bring us to the solution of the most 
serious problems of human life, the activity of 
experimental science itself, in its relation to the 
eternal and most reasonable demands of man, is 
so anomalous as to be amazing. 

People must live. But in order to live they must 
know how to live. And men have always obtained 
this knowledge well or ill and in conformity 
with it have lived and progressed. ^Vnd this know- 
ledge of how men should live has from the days 
of Moses, Solon, and Confucius always been con- 
sidered a science, the very essence of science. Only 
in our time has it come to be considered that the 
science telling us how to live is not a science at all, 
but that the only real science is experimental science 
commencing with mathematics and ending in 
sociology. 

And a strange misunderstanding results. 

A plain reasonable working man supposes, in the 



MODERN SCIENCE 179 

old way which is also the common-sense way, that 
if there are people who spend their lives in study, 
whom he feeds and keeps while they think for 
him then no doubt these men are engaged in 
studying things men need to know; and he expects 
science to solve for him the questions on which his 
welfare and that of all men depends. He expects 
science to tell him how he ought to live: how to 
treat his family, his neighbours and the men of 
other tribes, how to restrain his passions, what to 
believe in and what not to believe in, and much 
else. But what does our science say to him on 
these matters? 

It triumphantly tells him how many million miles 
it is from the earth to the sun; at what rate light 
travels through space ; how many million vibrations 
of ether per second are caused by light, and how 
many vibrations of air by sound; it tells of the 
chemical components of the Milky Way, of a new 
element helium of micro-organisms and their 
excrements, of the points on the hand at which 
electricity collects, of X-rays, and similar things. 

'But I don't want any of those things,' says a 
plain and reasonable man 'I want to know how 
to live.' 

'What does it matter what you want?' replies 
science. 'What you are asking about relates to 
sociology. Before replying to sociological ques- 
tions, we have yet to solve questions of zoology, 
botany, physiology, and biology in general ; but to 
solve those questions we have first to solve questions 
of physics, and then of chemistry, and have also to 
agree as to the shape of the infinitesimal atoms, and 
how it is that imponderable and incompressible 
ether transmits energy.' 

And people chiefly those who sit on the backs 
of others, and to whom it is therefore convenient 



i8o MODERN SCIENCE 

to wait are content with such replies, and sit 
blinking and awaiting the fulfilment of these 
promises; but plain and reasonable working men 
such as those on whose backs these others sit 
while occupying themselves with science the 
whole great mass of men, the whole of humanity, 
cannot be satisfied by such answers, but naturally 
ask in perplexity: 'But when will this be done? 
We cannot wait. You say that you will discover 
these things after some generations. But we are 
alive now alive to-day and dead to-morrow and 
we want to know how to live our life while we 
have it. So teach us!' 

'What a stupid and ignorant man!' replies 
science. 'He does not understand that science 
exists not for use, but for science. Science studies 
whatever presents itself for study, and cannot 
select the subjects to be studied. Science studies 
everything. That is the characteristic of science. 5 

And scientists are really convinced that to be 
occupied with trifles, while neglecting what is more 
essential and important, is a characteristic not of 
themselves but of science. The plain, reasonable 
man, however, begins to suspect that this charac- 
teristic pertains not to science, but to men who 
are inclined to occupy themselves with trifles and 
to attach great importance to those trifles. 

'Science studies everything,' say the scientists. But, 
really, everything is too much. Everything is an 
infinite quantity of objects ; it is impossible at one 
and the same time to study everything. As a lantern 
cannot light up everything, but only lights up the 
place on which it is turned or the direction in 
which the man carrying it is walking, so also 
science cannot study everything, but inevitably 
only studies that to which its attention is directed. 
And as a lantern lights up most strongly the things 



MODERN SCIENCE 181 

nearest to it, and less and less strongly the things 
that are more and more remote from it, and does 
not light up at all those things beyond its reach, 
so also human science of whatever kind has always 
studied and still studies most carefully what seems 
most important to the investigators, less carefully 
what seems to them less important, and quite 
neglects the whole remaining infinite quantity of 
objects. And what has defined and still defines 
for men the subjects they are to consider most 
important, less important, and unimportant, is the 
general understanding of the meaning and purpose 
of life (that is to say, the religion) possessed by 
those who occupy themselves with science. But 
men of science to-day not acknowledging any 
religion, and having therefore no standard by 
which to choose the subjects most important for 
study, or to discriminate them from less important 
subjects and, ultimately, from that infinite quantity 
of objects which the limitations of the human mind, 
and the infinity of the number of those objects, 
will always cause to remain uninvestigated have 
formed for themselves a theory of 'science for 
science's sake', according to which science is to 
study not what mankind needs, but everything. 

And indeed experimental science studies every- 
thing, not in the sense of the totality of objects, 
but in the sense of disorder chaos in the arrange- 
ment of the objects studied. That is to say, science 
does not devote most attention to what people 
most need, less to what they need less, and none 
at all to what is quite useless; it studies anything 
that happens to come to hand. Though Comte's 
and other classifications of the sciences exist, these 
classifications do not govern the selection of subjects 
for study; that selection is dependent on the human 
weaknesses common to men of science as well as to 



1 82 MODERN SCIENCE 

the rest of mankind. So that in reality scientists do 
not study everything, as they imagine and declare; 
they study what is more profitable and easier to 
study. And it is more profitable to study things 
that conduce to the well-being of the upper classes, 
with whom the men of science are connected ; and it 
is easier to study things that lack life. Accordingly, 
many men of science study books, monuments, and 
inanimate bodies. 

Such study is considered the most real 'science'. 
So that in our day what is considered to be the 
most real 'science', the only one (as the Bible was 
considered the only book worthy of the name), is 
not the contemplation and investigation of how to 
make the life of man more kindly and more happy, 
but the compilation and copying from many books 
into one, of all that our predecessors wrote on a 
certain subject, the pouring of liquids out of one 
glass bottle into another, the skilful slicing of 
microscopic preparations, the cultivation of bac- 
teria, the cutting up of frogs and dogs, the investiga- 
tion of X-rays, the theory of numbers, the chemical 
composition of the stars, &c. 

Meanwhile all those sciences which aim at 
making human life kindlier and happier religious, 
moral, and social science are considered by the 
dominant science to be unscientific, and are aban- 
doned to the theologians, philosophers, jurists, his- 
torians, and political economists, who under the 
guise of scientific investigation are chiefly occupied 
in demonstrating that the existing order of society 
(the advantages of which they enjoy) is the very 
one which ought to exist, and that therefore it 
must not only not be changed, but must be main- 
tained by all means. 

Not to mention theology and jurisprudence, 
political economy the most advanced of the 



MODERN SCIENCE 183 

sciences of this group is remarkable in this respect. 
The most prevalent political economy (that of 
Karl Marx), 1 accepting the existing order of life 
as though it were what it ought to be, not only 
does not call on men to alter that order that is to 
say, does not point out to them how they ought 
to live that their condition may improve but on 
the contrary demands an increase in the cruelty 
of the existing order of things, that its more-than- 
questionable predictions concerning what will 
happen if people continue to live as badly as they 
are now living may be fulfilled. 

And as always occurs, the lower a human activity 
descends the more widely it diverges from what it 
should be the more its self-confidence increases. 
That is just what has happened with the science 
of to-day. True science is never appreciated by its 
contemporaries, but on the contrary is usually 
persecuted. Nor can this be otherwise. True 
science shows men their mistakes, and points to 
new, unaccustomed ways of life. And both these 
services are unpleasant to the ruling section of 
society. But present-day science not only does not 
run counter to the tastes and demands of the ruling 
section of society; it quite complies with them. It 
satisfies idle curiosity, excites people's wonder, and 
promises them increase of pleasure. And so, 
whereas all that is truly great is calm, modest, and 
unnoticed, the science of to-day knows no limits 
to its self-laudation. 

'All former methods were erroneous, and all that 

1 From the Marxian point of view improvement can be 
inflicted on a people by external pressure, and there are 
witnesses to say that this has been accomplished in Russia. 
But it remains to be proved whether mankind can be made 
better or happier without freedom of thought or a religious 
understanding of life. Tor the things which are seen are 
temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.' A. M. 



184 MODERN SCIENCE 

used to be considered science was an imposture, 
a blunder, and of no account. Only our method 
is true, and the only true science is ours. The suc- 
cess of our science is such that thousands of years 
have not done what we have accomplished in the 
last century. In the future, travelling the same 
path, our science will solve all questions and make 
all mankind happy. Our science is the most im- 
portant activity in the world, and we men of 
science are the most important and necessary people 
in the world.' 

So think and say the scientists of to-day, and the 
cultured crowd echo it, but really at no previous 
time and among no people has science the whole 
of science with all its knowledge stood on so low 
a level as at present. One part of it, which should 
study the things that make human life kind and 
happy, is occupied in justifying the existing evil 
order of society; another part is engaged in solving 
questions of idle curiosity. 

'What? Idle curiosity? 5 I hear voices ask in 
indignation at such blasphemy. 'What about 
steam and electricity and telephones, and all our 
technical improvements? Not to speak of their 
scientific importance, see what practical results 
they have produced! Man has conquered Nature 
and subjugated its forces' . . . with more to the 
same effect. 

'But all the practical results of the victories over 
Nature have till now for a considerable time 
past gone to factories that injure the workmen's 
health, have produced weapons to kill men with, 
and increased luxury and corruption' replies a 
plain, reasonable man 'and therefore the victory 
of man over Nature has not only failed to increase 
the welfare of human beings, but has on the con- 
trary made their condition worse.* 



MODERN SCIENCE 185 

If the arrangement of society is bad (as ours is), 
and a small number of people have power over the 
majority and oppress it, every victory over Nature 
will inevitably serve only to increase that power 
and that oppression. That is what is actually 
happening. 

With a science which aims not at studying how 
people ought to live, but at studying whatever 
exists and which is therefore occupied chiefly in 
investigating inanimate things while allowing the 
order of human society to remain as it is no 
improvements, no victories over Nature, can better 
the state of humanity. 

'But medical science? You are forgetting the 
beneficent progress made by medicine. And 
bacteriological inoculations? And recent surgical 
operations?' exclaim the defenders of science 
adducing as a last resource the success of medical 
science to prove the utility of all science. 'By 
inoculations we can prevent illness, or can cure 
it; we can perform painless operations: cut open 
a man's inside and clean it out, and can straighten 
hunchbacks,' is what is usually said by the de- 
fenders of present-day science, who seem to think 
that the curing of one child from diphtheria, among 
those Russian children of whom 50 per cent, (and 
even 80 per cent, in the Foundling Hospitals) die 
as a regular thing apart from diphtheria must 
convince anyone of the beneficence of science in 
general. 

Our life is so arranged that not children only 
but a majority of people die from bad food, exces- 
sive and harmful work, bad dwellings and clothes, 
or want, before they have lived half the years that 
should be theirs. The order of things is such that 
children's illnesses, consumption, syphilis, and alco- 
holism, seize an ever-increasing number of victims, 



1 86 MODERN SCIENCE 

while a great part of men's labour is taken from 
them to prepare for wars, and every ten or 
twenty years millions of men are slaughtered in 
wars; and all this because science, instead of 
supplying correct religious, moral, and social ideas 
which would cause these ills to disappear of them- 
selves, is occupied on the one hand in justifying 
the existing order, and on the other hand with 
toys. And in proof of the fruitfulness of science 
we are told that it cures one in a thousand of the 
sick, who are sick only because science has neglected 
its proper business. 

Yes, if science would devote but a small part of 
those efforts and that attention and labour which 
it now spends on trifles, to supplying men with 
correct religious, moral, social, or even hygienic 
ideas, there would not be a one-hundredth part 
of the diphtheria, the diseases of the womb, or the 
deformities, the occasional cure of which now makes 
science so proud, though such cures are effected 
in clinical hospitals the cost of whose luxurious 
appointments is too great for them to be at the 
service of all who need them. 

It is as though men who had ploughed badly, 
and sown badly with poor seeds, were to go over 
the ground tending some broken ears of corn and 
trampling on others that grew alongside, and were 
then to exhibit their skill in healing the injured 
ears as a proof of their knowledge of agriculture. 

Our science, in order to become science and to be 
really useful and not harmful to humanity, must 
first of all renounce its experimental method, which 
causes it to consider as its duty the study merely 
of what exists, and must return to the only reason- 
able and fruitful conception of science, which is 
that the object of science is to show how people 
ought to live. Therein lies the aim and importance 



MODERN SCIENCE 187 

of science; and the study of things as they exist can 
only be a subject for science in so far as that study 
helps towards the knowledge of how men should 
live. 

It is just to the admission by experimental 
science of its own bankruptcy, and to the need of 
adopting another method, that Carpenter draws 
attention in this article. 

[2898.-] 

Chapter XX of What i? Art? forms a companion article 
to the above essay. They were both written at the same 
period and deal with the same topic. A. M. 



AN INTRODUCTION TO RUSKIN'S 
WORKS 

JOHN RUSKIN is one of the most remarkable men 
not only of England and of our generation, but 
of all countries and times. He is one of those rare 
men who think with their hearts ('les grandes 
pensees viennent du rai/r'), and so he thinks and says 
what he has himself seen and felt, and what 
everyone will think and say in the future. 

Ruskin is recognized in England as a writer and 
art-critic, but he is not spoken of as a philosopher, 
political economist, and Christian moralist just 
as Matthew Arnold and Henry George are not so 
spoken of either in England or America. Ruskin's 
power of thought and expression is, however, such 
that in spite of the unanimous opposition he met 
with and still meets with, especially among the 
orthodox economists (even the most radical of 
them) who cannot but attack him since he destroys 
their teaching at its very roots his fame grows 
and his thoughts penetrate among the public. 
Epigraphs of striking force taken from his works 
are to be found more and more often in English 
books. 



LETTERS ON HENRY GEORGE 



To T. M. Bdndarsv, who had written from Sibena asking 
for information about the Single- Tax. 

THIS is Henry George's plan: 
The advantage and convenience of using land 
is not everywhere the same; there will always be 
many applicants for land that is fertile, well 
situated, or near a populous place; and the better 
and more profitable the land the more people will 
wish to have it. All such land should therefore be 
valued according to its advantages: the more 
profitable dearer; the less profitable cheaper. 
Land for which there are few applicants should 
not be valued at all, but allotted gratuitously to 
those who wish to work it themselves. 

With such a valuation of the land here in the 
Tula Government, for instance good arable land 
might be estimated at about 5 or 6 rubles 1 the 
desyatin; 2 kitchen-gardens in the villages at about 
10 rubles the desyatin; meadows that are fertilized 
by spring floods at about 15 rubles, and so on. In 
towns the valuation would be 100 to 500 rubles the 
desyatfn, and in crowded parts of Moscow or 
Petersburg, or at the landing-places of navigable 
rivers, it would amount to several thousands or 
even tens of thousands of rubles the desyatin. 

When all the land in the country has been valued 
in this way, Henry George proposes that a law 
should be made by which, after a certain date in 
a certain year, the land should no longer belong 
to any one individual, but to the whole nation 

1 The ruble was then a little more than 25 pence. 
* The desyatin is nearly $% acres. 



igo LETTERS ON HENRY GEORGE 

the whole people; and that everyone holding land 
should therefore pay to the nation (that is, to the 
whole people) the yearly value at which it has been 
assessed. This payment should be used to meet 
all public or national expenses, and should replace 
all other rates, taxes, or customs dues. 

The result of this would be that a landed pro- 
prietor who now holds, say, 2,000 desyatfns, might 
continue to hold them if he liked, but he would have 
to pay to the treasury here in the Tula Govern- 
ment for instance (as his holding would include 
both meadow-land and homestead) 12,000 or 
15,000 rubles a year; and, as no large landowners 
could stand such a payment, they would all 
abandon their land. But it would mean that a 
Tula peasant in the same district would pay a 
couple of rubles per desyatin less than he pays 
now, and could have plenty of available land near 
by which he could take up at 5 or 6 rubles per 
desyatin. Besides this, he would have no other 
rates or taxes to pay, and would be able to buy all 
the things he requires, foreign or Russian, free of 
duty. In towns, the owners of houses and factories 
might continue to own them, but would have to 
pay to the public treasury the amount of the 
assessment on their land. 

The advantages of such an arrangement would 
be: 

1 . That no one would be unable to get land for 
use. 

2. That there would be no idle people owning 
land and making others work for them in return 
for permission to use that land. 

3. That the land would be in the possession of 
those who use it, and not of those who do not use it. 

4. That as the land would be available for people 
who wished to work on it, they would cease to 



LETTERS ON HENRY GEORGE 191 

enslave themselves as hands in factories and work- 
shops, or as servants in towns, and would settle in 
the country districts. 

5. That there would be no more inspectors and 
collectors of taxes in mills, factories, refineries, and 
workshops, but there would only be collectors of 
the tax on land, which cannot be stolen, and from 
which a tax can be most easily collected. 

6 (and most important). That the non-workers 
would be saved from the sin of exploiting other 
people's labour (in doing which they are often not 
the guilty parties, for they have from childhood 
been educated in idleness and do not know how 
to work) , and from the still greater sin of all kinds 
of shuffling and lying to justify themselves in 
committing that sin; and the workers would be 
saved from the temptation and sin of envying, 
condemning, and being exasperated with the non- 
workers, so that one cause of separation among 
men would be destroyed. 

II 

To a German Propagandist of Henry George's Views. 

It is with particular pleasure that I hasten to 
answer your letter, and say that I have known of 
Henry George since the appearance of his Social 
Problems. I read that book and was struck by the 
justice of his main thought by the exceptional 
manner (unparalleled in scientific literature) , clear, 
popular, and forcible, in which he stated his case 
and especially by (what is also exceptional in 
scientific literature) the Christian spirit that per- 
meates the whole work. After reading it I went 
back to his earlier Progress and Poverty, and still 
more deeply appreciated the importance of its 
author's activity. 



192 LETTERS ON HENRY GEORGE 

You ask what I think of Henry George's activity, 
and of his system of Taxation of Land Values. My 
opinion is this: 

Humanity constantly advances : on the one hand 
elucidating its consciousness and conscience, and 
on the other hand rearranging its modes of life 
to suit this changing consciousness. Thus at each 
period of the life of humanity the double process 
goes on: the clearing up of conscience, and the 
incorporation into life of what has been made clear 
to conscience. 

At the end of the eighteenth century and the 
beginning of the nineteenth, a clearing up of 
consciences took place in Christendom with refer- 
ence to the labouring classes, who lived under 
various forms of slavery, and this was followed by 
a corresponding readjustment of the forms of 
social life to match this clearer consciousness. 
Slavery was abolished, and free wage-labour took 
its place. At the present time an enlightenment of 
man's conscience in relation to the way land is used 
is going on, and it seems to me a practical applica- 
tion of this new consciousness must soon follow. 

And in this process (the enlightenment of con- 
science as to the utilization of land, and the practi- 
cal application of that new consciousness), which 
is one of the chief problems of our time, the leader 
and organizer of the movement was and is Henry 
George. In this lies his immense, his pre-eminent, 
importance. By his excellent books he has helped 
both to clear men's minds and consciences on this 
question, and to place it on a practical footing. 

But in relation to the abolition of the shameful 
right to own landed estates, something is occurring 
similar to what happened within our own recollec- 
tion with reference to the abolition of serfdom. 
The government and the governing classes 



LETTERS ON HENRY GEORGE 193 

knowing that their position and privileges are 
bound up with the land question pretend that 
they are preoccupied with the welfare of the people, 
organizing savings banks for workmen, factory 
inspection, income taxes, even eight-hour working 
days and carefully ignore the land question, or 
even (aided by compliant science, which will 
demonstrate anything they like) declare that the 
expropriation of the land is useless, harmful, and 
impossible. 

Just the same thing occurs as occurred in con- 
nexion with slavery. At the end of the eighteenth 
and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, men 
had long felt that slavery was a terrible anachron- 
ism, revolting to the human soul; but pseudo- 
religion and pseudo-science demonstrated that 
slavery was not wrong and that it was necessary, or 
at least that it was premature to abolish it. The 
same thing is now being repeated with reference 
to landed property. As before, pseudo-religion and 
pseudo-science demonstrate that there is nothing 
wrong in the private ownership of landed estates, and 
that there is no need to abolish the present system. 

One would think it should be plain to every 
educated man of our time that an exclusive control 
of land by people who do not work on it, but who 
prevent hundreds and thousands of poor families 
from using it, is a thing as plainly bad and shameful 
as it was to own slaves ; yet we see educated, refined 
aristocrats English, Austrian, Prussian, and Rus- 
sian making use of this cruel and shameful right, 
and not only not feeling ashamed but feeling proud 
of it. 

Religion blesses such possessions, and the science 
of political economy demonstrates that the present 
state of things is the one that should exist for the 
greatest benefit of mankind. 

459 



194 LETTERS ON HENRY GEORGE 

The service rendered by Henry George is that 
he has not only mastered the sophistries by which 
religion and science try to justify private ownership 
of land, and simplified the question to the utter- 
most so that it is impossible not to admit the 
wrongfulness of land-ownership unless one simply 
stops one's ears, but he was also the first to show 
how the question can be solved in a practical way. 
He first gave a clear and direct reply to those 
excuses used by the enemies of every reform, to 
the effect that the demands of progress are un- 
practical and inapplicable dreams. 

Henry George's plan destroys that excuse by 
putting the question in such a form that a com- 
mittee might be assembled to-morrow to discuss 
the project and convert it into law. In Russia, for 
instance, the discussion of land purchase, or of 
nationalizing the land without compensation, could 
begin to-morrow, and the project might after 
undergoing various vicissitudes be put into opera- 
tion, as occurred thirty-three years ago 1 with the 
project for the emancipation of the serfs. 

The need of altering the present system has been 
explained, and the possibility of the change has 
been shown (there may be alterations and amend- 
ments of the Single-Tax system, but its fundamental 
idea is practicable) ; and therefore it will be im- 
possible for people not to do what their reason 
demands. It is only necessary that this thought 
should become public opinion; and in order that 
it may become public opinion it must be spread 
abroad and explained. This is just what you are 
doing, and it is a work with which I sympathize with 
my whole soul and in which I wish you success. 



1 The Emancipation of the Serfs in Russia was decreed in 
1861, and was carried out during the following few years. A. M. 



'THOU SHALT NOT KILL' 

'Thou shalt not kill.' EXOD. xx. 13. 

'The disciple is not above his master: but every one when 
he is perfected shall be as his master.' LUKE vi. 40. 

'For all they that take the sword shall perish with the 
sword.' MATT. xxvi. 52. 

'Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should 
do to you, do yc even so to them.' MATT. vii. 12. 

WHEN Kings are executed after trial, as in the 
case of Charles I, Louis XVI, and Maximilian 
of Mexico ; or when they are killed in Court con- 
spiracies, like Peter III, Paul, and various Sultans, 
Shahs, and Khans little is said about it. But 
when they are killed without a trial and without 
a Court conspiracy as in the case of Henry IV 
of France, Alexander II, the Empress of Austria, 
the late Shah of Persia, and, recently, Humbert 
such murders excite the greatest surprise and 
indignation among Kings and Emperors and their 
adherents, just as if they themselves never took 
part in murders, or profited by them, or instigated 
them. But in fact the mildest of the murdered 
Kings (Alexander II or Humbert, for instance), 
were instigators of and accomplices and partakers 
in the murder of tens of thousands of men who 
perished on the field of battle, not to speak of 
executions in their own countries ; while more cruel 
Kings and Emperors have been guilty of hundreds 
of thousands, and even millions, of murders. 

The teaching of Christ repeals the law, 'An eye 
for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth 5 ; but those 
who have always clung to that law, and still cling 
to it, and who apply it to a terrible degree not 
only claiming an eye for an eye, but without pro- 
vocation decreeing the slaughter of thousands, as 
they do when they declare war have no right to 



195 'THOU SHALT NOT KILL' 

be indignant at the application of that same law 
to themselves in so small and insignificant a degree 
that hardly one King or Emperor is killed for each 
hundred thousand, or perhaps even for each 
million, who are killed by the order and with the 
consent of Kings and Emperors. Kings and Em- 
perors not only should not be indignant at such 
murders as those of Alexander II and Humbert, 
but they should be surprised that such murders 
are so rare, considering the continual and universal 
example of murder that they give to mankind. 

The crowd are so hvpnotized that they do not 
understand the meaning of what is going on before 
their eyes. They see what constant care Kings, 
Emperors, and Presidents devote to their disci- 
plined armies; they see the reviews, parades, and 
manoeuvres the rulers hold, about which they 
boast to one another; and the people crowd to 
see their own brothers, dressed up in the bright 
clothes of fools, turned into machines to the sound 
of drum and trumpet, and all making one and the 
same movement at one and the same moment at 
the shout of one man but they do not understand 
what it all means. Yet the meaning of this drilling 
is very clear and simple : it is nothing but a prepara- 
tion for killing. 

It is stupefying men in order to make them fit 
instruments for murder. And those who do this, 
who chiefly direct it and are proud of it, are the 
Kings, Emperors, and Presidents. And it is just 
these men who are specially occupied in organiz- 
ing murder and who have made murder their 
profession, who wear military uniforms and carry 
murderous weapons (swords) at their sides who 
are horrified and indignant when one of themselves 
is murdered. 

The murder of Kings the murder of Humbert 



'THOU SHALT NOT KILL* 197 

is terrible, but not on account of its cruelty. The 
things done by command of Kings and Emperors 
not only past events such as the massacre of St. 
Bartholomew, religious butcheries, the terrible 
repressions of peasant rebellions, and Paris coups 
d'etat, but the present-day government executions, 
the doing-to-death of prisoners in solitary confine- 
ment, the Disciplinary Battalions, the hangings, 
the beheadings, the shootings and slaughter in wars 
are incomparably more cruel than the murders 
committed by Anarchists. Nor are these murders 
terrible because undeserved. If Alexander II and 
Humbert did not deserve death, still less did the 
thousands of Russians who perished at Plevna, 
or of Italians who perished in Abyssinia. 1 Such 
murders are terrible not because they are cruel or 
unmerited, but because of the unreasonableness of 
those who commit them. 

If the regicides act under the influence of per- 
sonal feelings of indignation evoked by the suffer- 
ings of an oppressed people for which they hold 
Alexander or Garnot or Humbert responsible, or 
if they act from personal feelings of revenge, then 
however immoral their conduct may be it is at 
least intelligible. But how is it that a body of men 
(Anarchists, we are told) such as those by whom 
Bresci was sent, and who are now threatening 
another Emperor how is it that they cannot devise 
any better means of improving the condition of 
humanity than by killing people whose destruction 
can be of no more use than the decapitation of that 
mythical monster on whose neck a new head ap- 
peared as soon as one was cut off? Kings and 
Emperors have long ago arranged for themselves 
a system like that of a magazine-rifle: as soon as 
one bullet has been discharged another takes its 
1 In the war of 1896. A. M. 



198 'THOU SHALT NOT KILL' 

place. Le roi est mort> vive le roi! So what is the use 
of killing them? 

Only on a most superficial view can the killing 
of these men seem a means of saving the nations 
from oppression and from wars destructive of 
human life. 

One only need remember that similar oppressions 
and similar wars went on no matter who was at 
the head of the government Nicholas or Alex- 
ander, Frederick or Wilhelm, Napoleon or Louis, 
Palmerston or Gladstone, McKinlcy or anyone 
else in order to understand that it is not any 
particular person who causes these oppressions and 
these wars from which the nations suffer. The 
misery of nations is caused not by particular persons 
but by the particular order of society under which 
the people are so tied up together that they find 
themselves all in the power of a few men, or more 
often in the power of one single man: a man so 
perverted by his unnatural position as arbiter 01 
the fate and lives of millions, that he is always in an 
unhealthy state, and always suffers more or less 
from a mania of self-aggrandizement, which only 
his exceptional position conceals from general 
notice. 

Apart from the fact that such men are surrounded 
from earliest childhood to the grave by the most 
insensate luxury and an atmosphere of falsehood 
and flattery which always accompanies them, their 
whole education and all their occupations are 
centred on one object: learning about former 
murders, the best present-day ways of murdering, 
and the best preparations for future murder. From 
childhood they learn about killing in all its possible 
forms. They always carry about with them 
murderous weapons swords or sabres; they dress 
themselves in various uniforms ; they attend parades, 



'THOU SHALT NOT KILL 1 199 

reviews, and manoeuvres; they visit one another, 
presenting one another with Orders and nominat- 
ing one another to the command of regiments 
and not only does no one tell them plainly what 
they are doing, or say that to busy oneself with 
preparations for killing is revolting and criminal, 
but from all sides they hear nothing but approval 
and enthusiasm for all this activity of theirs. Every 
time they go out, and at each parade and review, 
crowds of people flock to greet them with enthusi- 
asm, and it seems to them as if the whole nation 
approves of their conduct. The only part of the 
Press that reaches them, and that seems to them 
the expression of the feelings of the whole people, 
or at least of its best representatives, most slavishly 
extols their every word and action, however silly 
or wicked they may be. Those around them, men 
and women, clergy and laity all people who do 
not prize human dignity vying with one another 
in refined flattery, agree with them about anything 
and deceive them about everything, making it 
impossible for them to see life as it is. Such rulers 
might live a hundred years without ever seeing 
one single really independent man or ever hearing 
the truth spoken. One is sometimes appalled to 
hear of the words and deeds of these men ; but one 
need only consider their position in order to undei- 
stand that anyone in their place would act as they 
do. If a reasonable man found himself in their 
place there is only one reasonable action he could 
perform, and that would be to get away from such 
a position. Anyone remaining in it would behave 
as they do. 

What indeed must go on in the head of some 
Wilhelm of Germany a narrow-minded, ill- 
educated, vain man, with the ideals of a German 
Junker when nothing he can say, however stupid 



200 'THOU SHALT NOT KILL* 

or horrid, will not be met by an enthusiastic 
'Hoch!* and be commented on by the Press of the 
entire world as though it were something highly 
important. When he says that at his word soldiers 
should be ready to kill their own fathers, people 
shout 'Hurrah!' When he says that the Gospel 
must be introduced with an iron fist 'Hurrah!' 
When he says the army is to take no prisoners in 
China but to slaughter everybody, he is not put 
into a lunatic asylum but people shout 'Hurrah!' 
and set sail for China to execute his commands. 
Or Nicholas II (a man naturally modest) begins 
his reign by announcing to venerable old men who 
had expressed a wish to be allowed to discuss their 
own affairs that such ideas of self-government 
were 'insensate dreams' and the organs of the 
Press he sees and the people he meets praise him 
for it. He proposes a childish, silly, and hypo- 
critical project of universal peace while at the 
same time ordering an increase in the army and 
there are no limits to the laudations of his wisdom 
and virtue. Without any need, he foolishly and 
mercilessly insults and oppresses a whole nation, 
the Finns, and again he hears nothing but praise. 
Finally, he arranges the Chinese slaughter 
terrible in its injustice, cruelty, and incompatibility 
with his peace projects and people applaud him 
from all sides, both as a victor and as a continuer 
of his father's peace policy. 

What indeed must be going on in the heads and 
hearts of these men? 

So it is not the Alexanders and Humberts, nor 
the Wilhelms, Nicholases, and Chamberlains 1 
though they decree these oppressions of the nations 

1 In Russia and indeed generally throughout Europe 
Chamberlain was considered responsible for the Boer War. 
A.M. 



'THOU SHALT NOT KILL 1 201 

and these wars who are really most guilty of these 
sins; it is rather those who place and support 
them in the position of arbiters over the lives of 
their fellow men. And therefore the thing to do 
is not to kill the Alexanders, Nicholases, Wilhelms, 
and Humberts, but to cease to support the arrange- 
ment of society of which they are a result. And 
the present order of society is supported by the 
selfishness and stupefaction of the people, who 
sell their freedom and honour for insignificant 
material advantages. 

People who stand on the lowest rung of the 
ladder partly as a result of being stupefied by 
a patriotic and pseudo-religious education and 
partly for the sake of personal advantages cede 
their freedom and sense of human dignity at the 
bidding of these who stand above them and offer 
them material advantages. In the same way in 
consequence of stupefaction, but chiefly for the 
sake of advantages those who are a little higher 
up the ladder cede their freedom and manly 
dignity, and the same thing repeats itself with those 
standing yet higher, and so on to the topmost rung 
to those who, or to him who, standing at the 
apex of the social cone have nothing more to obtain, 
for whom the only motives of action are love of 
power and vanity, and who are generally so per- 
verted and stupefied by the power of life and death 
which they hold over their fellow men, and by the 
consequent servility and flattery of those who sur- 
round them, that without ceasing to do evil they 
feel quite assured that they are benefactors to the 
human race. 

It is the people who sacrifice their dignity as men 
for material profit who produce these men who 
cannot act otherwise than as they do act, and with 
whom it is useless to be angry for their stupid and 



202 'THOU SHALT NOT KILL* 

wicked actions. To kill such men is like whipping 

children whom one has first spoilt. 

That nations should not be oppressed, and that 
there should be none of these useless wars, and that 
men should not be indignant with those who seem 
to cause these evils and should not kill them it 
seems that only a very small thing is necessary. It 
is necessary that men should understand things as 
they are, should call them by their right names, and 
should know that an army is an instrument for 
killing, and that the enrolment and management of 
an army the very things which Kings, Emperors, 
and Presidents occupy themselves with so seli- 
ronfidently is a preparation for murder. 

If only each King, Emperor, and President 
understood that his work of directing armies is not 
an honourable and important duty, as his flatterers 
persuade him it is, but a bad and shameful act 
of preparation for murder and if each private 
individual understood that the payment of taxes 
wherewith to hire and equip soldiers, and above 
all army service itself, are not matters of indiffer- 
ence, but arc bad and shameful actions by which 
he not only permits but participates in murder 
then this power of Emperors, Kings, and Presidents, 
which now arouses our indignation and which 
causes them to be murdered, would disappear of 
itself. 

So the Alexanders, Carnots, Humberts, and 
others should not be murdered, but it should be 
explained to them that they are themselves mur- 
derers, and above all they should not be allowed 
to kill people: men should refuse to murder at 
their command. 

If people do not yet act in this way it is only 
because governments, to maintain themselves, 
diligently exercise an hypnotic influence upon the 



'THOU SHALT NOT KILL' 203 

people. And therefore we may help to prevent 
people killing either Kings or one another, not 
by killing murder only increases the hypnotism 
but by arousing people from their hypnotic con- 
dition. 

And it is this I have tried to do by these remarks. 

[August 8, o.s., /poo.] 

Prohibited in Russia, an attempt was made to print 
this article in the Russian language in Germany; but 
the edition was seized in July, 1903, and after a trial in 
the Provincial Court of Leipzig (August, 1903) it was 
pronounced to be insulting to the German Kaiser, and 
all copies were ordered to be destroyed. A. M. 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

(Concerning the Russo-Japanese War) 
'This is your hour and the power of darkness.' LUKE xxii. 53. 



. . . Your iniquities have separated between you and 
your God, and your sins have hid his face fiom you, 
and he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with 
blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have 
spoken lies, your tongue muttereth wickedness. None 
sueth in righteousness, and none pleadeth in truth : they 
trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief 
and bring forth iniquity . . . their works are works of 
iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. Their 
feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent 
blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity ; desolation 
and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace 
they know not ; and there is no judgement in their goings ; 
they have made themselves crooked paths; whosoever 
goeth therein doth not know peace. Therefore is judge- 
ment far from us, neither doth righteousness overtake 
us : we look for light, but behold darkness, for brightness, 
but we walk in obscurity. We grope for the wall like 
the blind, yea, we grope as they that have no eyes: we 
Stumble at noonday as in the twilight; among them that 
are lusty we are as dead men. ISAIAH lix. 2-11. 

War is held in greater esteem than ever. A skilled 
proficient in this business, that murderer of genius, von 
Moltke, once replied to some Peace delegates in the 
following terrible words : 

'War is sacred, it is instituted by God, it is one of the 
divine laws of the world, it upholds in men all the great 
and noble sentiments honour, self-sacrifice, virtue, and 
courage. It is War alone that saves men from falling 
into the grossest materialism.' 

To assemble four hundred thousand men in herds, to 
march night and day without rest, with no time to think, 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 205 

read, or study, without being of the least use to anybody, 
wallowing in filth, sleeping in the mud, living like animals 
in continual stupefaction, sacking towns, burning 
villages, ruining the whole population, and then meeting 
similar masses of human flesh and falling upon them, 
shedding rivers of blood, strewing the fields with mangled 
bodies mixed with mud and blood; losing arms and legs 
and having brains blown out for no benefit to anyone and 
dying somewhere on a field while your old parenls 
and your wife and childien are perishing of hunger 
that is called saving men from falling into the grossest 
materialism! GUY DE MAUPASSANT. 

We will content ourselves with reminding you that the 
different states of Europe have accumulated a debt of 
a hundred and thirty milliards (about a hundred and 
ten within the last century), and that this colossal debt 
has arisen almost exclusively from the expenses of war ; 
that in time of peace they maintain standing armies of 
four million men, which they can increase to ten million 
in times of war; 1 that two-thirds of their budgets are 
absorbed by interest on these debts and by the main- 
tenance of land and sea forces. G. DE MOLINARI. 

AGAIN there is war! Again there is needless and 
J\ quite unnecessary suffering, together with fraud 
and a general stupefaction and brutalization of men. 
Men who are separated from each other by 
thousands of miles Buddhists whose law forbids 
the killing not only of men but even of animals, and 
Christians professing a law of brotherhood and 
love hundreds of thousands of such men seek one 
another out on land and sea like wild beasts, to kill, 
torture, and mutilate one another in the cruellest 
possible way. Can this really be happening, or is 
it merely a dream? Something impossible and 
unbelievable is taking place, and one longs to 
believe that it is a dream and to awaken from it. 

1 Now, in 1936, these figures have enormously increased 
and continue to expand. A. M. 



206 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

But it is no dream. It is a dreadful reality. 

It is understandable that a poor, uneducated 
Japanese who has been torn from his field and 
taught that Buddhism consists not in having com- 
passion for all that lives, but in offering sacrifices 
to idols; and a similar poor illiterate fellow from 
the neighbourhood of Tula or Nizhni-Novgorod 
who has been taught that Christianity consists in 
bowing before icons of Christ, the Mother of God, 
and the Saints it is understandable that these 
unfortunate men, taught by centuries of violence 
and deceit to regard the greatest crime in the world 
(the murder of their fellow men) as a noble deed, 
can commit these dreadful crimes without regard- 
ing themselves as guilty. But how can so-called 
enlightened men support war, preach it, partici- 
pate in it, and, worst of all, without being exposed 
to its dangers themselves, incite their unfortunate, 
defrauded brothers to take part in it? For these so- 
called enlightened men cannot help knowing, I do 
not say the Christian law (if they recognize them- 
selves to be Christians), but all that has been and 
is being written and said about the cruelty, futility, 
and senselessness of war. They are regarded as 
enlightened just because they know all this. Most 
of them have themselves written and spoken about 
it. Not to mention the Hague Conference which 
evoked universal praise, and all the books, pam- 
phlets, newspaper articles, and speeches concerning 
the possibility of solving international misunder- 
standings by international courts no enlightened 
man can help knowing that universal competition 
in the armaments of different states must inevitably 
result in endless wars and general bankruptcy, or 
in both of these together. They cannot help know- 
ing that besides the insensate and useless expendi- 
ture of milliards of rubles (that is of human labour) 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 207 

on preparations for war, millions of the most ener- 
getic and vigorous men perish in wars at the time 
of their life best for productive labour. (During 
the past century fourteen million men have so 
perished.) Enlightened men cannot but know that 
the grounds of a war are never worth a single 
human life or a hundredth part of what is spent 
on it. (In fighting for the emancipation of the 
negroes much more was spent than would have 
bought all the slaves in the Southern States.) 

Above all, everyone knows and cannot but know 
that wars evoke the lowest animal passions and 
deprave and brutalize men. Everyone knows how 
unconvincing are the arguments in favour of war 
(such as those brought forward by de Maistre, 1 
von Moltke, and others) all based on the sophistry 
that in every human calamity it is possible to find 
a useful side, or on the quite arbitrary assertion that 
as wars have always existed they must always 
exist as if the evil actions of men can be justified 
by the advantages they bring or by the fact that 
they have long been committed. Every so-called 
enlightened man knows all this. But suddenly a 
war begins and it is all instantly forgotten, and the 
very men who only yesterday were proving the 
cruelty, futility, and senselessness of wars, now 
think, speak, and write only of how to kill as many 
men as possible, of how to ruin and destroy as 
much of the produce of human labour as possible, 
and how to inflame the passion of hatred to the 
utmost in those peaceful, harmless, industrious men 
who by their labour feed, clothe, and maintain the 
pseudo-enlightened men who force them to com- 
mit these dreadful deeds, contrary to their con- 
sciencej welfare, and faith. 

1 Joseph de Maistre, an ardent Roman Catholic who acted as 
Sardinian ambassador at Petersburg from 1 803 to 1 8 1 7. A. M. 



ao8 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

II 

And Micromegas said: 

*O intelligent atoms in whom the Eternal Being has 
been pleased to manifest his dexterity and his might, the 
joys you taste on your globe are doubtless very pure, 
for as you are so immaterial and seem to be all spirit, 
your lives must be passed in Love and in Thought : that 
indeed is the true life of spirits. Nowhere yet have I found 
real happiness, but that you have it here I cannot doubt.' 

At these words all the philosophers shook their heads 
and one of them, more frank than the rest, candidly 
admitted that apart from a small number of people who 
were held in little esteem, the rest of the inhabitants of 
the world were a crowd of madmen, miscreants, and 
unfortunates. 'If evil be a property of matter,' he said, 
'we have more matter than is necessary for the doing of 
much evil, and too much spirit if evil be a property 
of the spirit. Do you realize, for instance, that at this 
moment there are a hundred thousand madmen of our 
species wearing hats, killing or being killed by a hundred 
thousand other animals wearing turbans, and that over 
almost the whole face of the earth this has been the 
custom from time immemorial?' 

The Sirian shuddered and asked what could be the 
ground for these horrible quarrels between such puny 
beasts. 

'The matter at issue,' replied the philosopher, 'is some 
mud-heap as large as your heel. It is not that any single 
man of all these millions who slaughter each other 
claims one straw on the mud-heap. The point is shall 
the mud-heap belong to a certain man called the 
"Sultan", or to another called, I know not why, 
"Caesar"? Neither of them has ever seen or will ever 
see the little bit of land in dispute, and barely one of 
these animals which slaughter each other has ever seen 
the animal for which he is slaughtered.' 

* Wretches!' cried the Sirian indignantly. 'Such a riot 
of mad fury is inconceivable! I am tempted to take three 
steps and with three blows of my foot crush out of 
existence this ant-hill of absurd cut-throats.' 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 209 

'Do not trouble,' answered the philosopher, 'they 
wreak their own ruin. Know that after ten years not 
a hundredth part of these miscreants is ever left. Know 
that even when they have not drawn the sword, hunger, 
exhaustion, or debauchery carries them nearly all off. 
Besides it is not they who should be punished, but the 
stay-at-home baibarians who, after a good meal, order 
from their remote closets the massacre of a million men, 
and then have solemn prayers of gratitude for the event 
offered up to God.' VOLTAIRE, Micromegas, Ch. vii. 

The folly of modern wars is excused on grounds of 
dynastic interests, nationality, European equilibrium, 
and honour. This last is perhaps the most extravagant 
excuse of all, for there is not a nation in the world that 
has not polluted itself by all sorts of crimes and shameful 
actions, nor is there one that has not experienced every 
possible humiliation. If indeed there still exists a sense 
of honour among nations, it is strange to support it by 
making war that is, by committing all the crimes by 
which a private person dishonours himself: arson, rape, 
outrage, murder. . . . ANATOLE FRANCE. 

The savage instinct of murder-in-war has very deep 
roots in the human brain, because it has been carefully 
encouraged and cultivated for thousands of years. One 
likes to hope that a humanity superior to ours will 
succeed in correcting this original vice, but what will 
it then think of this civilization calling itself refined and 
of which we are so proud? Even as we now think of 
ancient Mexico and of its cannibalism, at one and the 
same time pious, warlike, and bestial. 

CH. LETOURNEAU. 

Sometimes out of fear one ruler attacks another in 
order that the latter should not fall upon him. Some- 
times war is begun because the foe is too strong, and 
sometimes because he is too weak; sometimes our neigh- 
bours desire our possessions, or they possess what we 
want. Then begins war, which lasts until they seize 
what they may require or surrender the possession which 
is demanded by us. JONATHAN SWIFT. 



210 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

Something incomprehensible and impossible in 
its cruelty, falsehood, and stupidity is taking place. 
The Russian Tsar, the very man who summoned 
all the nations to peace, 1 publicly announces that 
despite his efforts to maintain the peace so dear to 
his heart (efforts expressed by the seizure of other 
peoples' lands, and the strengthening of the army 
for the defence of these stolen lands) he is com- 
pelled in consequence of attacks by the Japanese to 
order the same to be done to them as they have 
begun doing to the Russians, that is, that they 
should be killed ; and announcing this call to mur- 
der he mentions God, evoking a Divine blessing 
on the most dreadful crime in the world. The 
Japanese Emperor has proclaimed the same thing 
in regard to the Russians. 

Learned jurists, Messieurs Muravev and Martens, 
are assiduous in demonstrating that there is no 
contradiction at all between the former general 
call to universal peace and the present incitement 
to war, because other peoples' lands have been 
seized. Diplomatists publish and send out circulars 
in the refined French language, proving circum- 
stantially and diligently (though they know that no 
one believes them) that after all its efforts to estab- 
lish peaceful relations (in reality after all its efforts 
to deceive other countries) the Russian govern- 
ment has been compelled to have recourse to the 
only means for a rational solution of the question, 
that is, by the murder of men. And the same thing 
is written by the Japanese diplomatists. Learned 
men for their part, comparing the present with the 
past and deducing profound conclusions from these 
comparisons, argue interminably about the laws 

1 This refers to the Hague Conference of 1899, organized 
at the instance of Nicholas II, and aiming at an agreement 
not to increase the armed forces that then existed. A. M. 



BETHINK YOURSELVES ! 211 

of the movements of nations, about the relation of 
the yellow to the white race, and about Buddhism 
and Christianity, and on the basis of these deduc- 
tions and reflections justify the slaughter of the 
yellow race by Christians. And in the same way 
the Japanese learned men and philosophers justify 
the slaughter of the white race. Journalists with 
unconcealed joy, trying to outdo one another and 
not stopping at any falsehood however impudent 
and transparent, prove in various ways that the 
Russians alone are right and strong and good in 
every respect, and that all the Japanese are wrong 
and weak and bad in every respect, and that all 
those who are inimical or who may become 
inimical towards the Russians (the English and 
the Americans) are bad too. And the Japanese 
and their supporters prove just the same regarding 
the Russians. 

Quite apart from the military people whose 
profession it is to prepare for murder, crowds of 
supposedly enlightened people professors, social 
reformers, students, gentry, and merchants of 
their own accord express most bitter and con- 
temptuous feelings towards the Japanese, the 
English, and the Americans, towards whom only 
yesterday they were well disposed or indifferent; 
and of their own accord express most abject and 
servile feelings towards the Tsar (to whom they 
are to say the least completely indifferent) assuring 
him of their unbounded love and readiness to 
sacrifice their lives for him. 

And that unfortunate and entangled young man, 
acknowledged as ruler of a hundred and thirty 
million people, continually deceived and obliged 
to contradict himself, believes all this, and thanks 
and blesses for slaughter the troops he calls his, 
in defence of lands he has even less right to 



212 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

call his. They all present hideous icons to one 
another (in which no enlightened people now 
believe and which even uneducated peasants 
are beginning to abandon) and they all bow to 
the ground before these icons, kiss them, and pro- 
nounce pompous and false speeches which nobody 
believes. 

Wealthy people contribute insignificant portions 
of their immorally acquired riches to this cause of 
murder, or to the organization of assistance in the 
work of murder, while the poor, from whom the 
government annually collects two milliards, deem 
it necessary to do likewise, offering their mites 
also. The government incites and encourages 
crowds of idlers who walk about the streets with 
the Tsar's portrait, singing and shouting hurrah 
and under pretext of patriotism committing all 
kinds of excesses. All over Russia from the capital 
to the remotest village the priests in the churches, 
calling themselves Christians, appeal to the God 
who enjoined love of one's enemies, the God of 
love, for help in the devil's work the slaughter 
of men. 

And stupefied by prayers, sermons, exhortations, 
processions, pictures, and newspapers, the cannon- 
fodder hundreds of thousands of men dressed 
alike and carrying various lethal weapons leave 
their parents, wives, and children, and with agony 
at heart but with a show of bravado, go where at 
the risk of their own lives they will commit the 
most dreadful action, killing men whom they do 
not know and who have done them no harm. And 
in their wake go doctors and nurses who for some 
reason suppose that they cannot serve the simple, 
peaceful, suffering people at home, but can serve 
only those who are engaged in slaughtering one 
another. Those who remain behind rejoice at the 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 213 

news of the murder* of men, and when they learn 
that a great many Japanese have been killed they 
thank someone whom they call God. 

And not only is all this considered a manifesta- 
tion of elevated feeling, but those who refrain from 
such manifestations and attempt to bring people 
to reason are considered traitors and enemies to 
their nation, and are in danger of being abused 
and beaten by a brutalized crowd which possesses 
no other weapon but brute force in defence of its 
insanity and cruelty. 

Ill 

War organizes a body of men who lose the feelings 
of the citizen in the soldier; whose habits detach them 
from the community; whose ruling passion is devotion 
to a chief; who are inured in camp to despotic sway; who 
are accustomed to accomplish their ends by force and 
to sport with the rights and happiness of their fellow 
beings; who delight in tumult, adventure, and peril, 
and turn with disgust and scorn from the quiet labours 
of peace. ... It (war) tends to multiply and perpetuate 
itself endlessly. The successful nation, flushed by victory, 
pants for new lauiels, whilst the humbled nation, 
irritated by defeat, is impatient to redeem its honour 
and repair its losses. . . . 

The slaughter of thousands of fellow beings instead of 
awakening pity flushes them with delirious joy, illumin- 
ates the city, and dissolves the whole country in revelry 
and riot. Thus the heart of man is hardened and his 
worst passions are nourished. He renounces the bonds 
and sympathies of humanity. CHANNING. 

The age for military service has arrived, and every 
young man has to submit to the arbitrary orders of some 
rascal or ignoramus; he must believe that nobility and 
greatness consist in renouncing his own will and be- 
coming the tool of another's will, in slashing and in 
getting himself slashed, in suffering from hunger, thirst, 



214 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

rain, and cold; in being mutilated without knowing 
why and without any other reward than a glass of 
brandy on the day of battle and the promise of some- 
thing impalpable and fictitious immortality after 
death, and glory given or refused by the pen of some 
journalist in his warm room. 

A gun is fired. He falls wounded, his comrades finish 
him off by trampling over him. He is buried half alive 
and then he may enjoy immortality. He for whom he 
had given his happiness, his sufferings, and his very life, 
never knew him. And years later someone comes to 
collect his whitened bones, out of which they make paint 
and English blacking for cleaning his General's boots. 

ALPHONSE KARR. 

They take a man in the bloom of his youth, they put 
a gun into his hands, a knapsack on his back, and a 
cockaded hat on his head, and then they say to him: 
'My brother-ruler of so-and-so has treated me badly. 
You must attack his subjects. I have informed them that 
on such and such a date you will present yourselves at 
the frontier to slaughter them. . . . 

'Perhaps at first you will think that our enemies are 
men; but they are not men, they are Prussians or 
Frenchmen. You will distinguish them from the human 
race by the colour of their uniform. Try to do your duty 
well, for I am looking on. If you gain the victory, they 
will bring you to the windows of my palace when you 
return. I will come down in full uniform and say: 
"Soldiers, I am satisfied!" , . . Should you remain on 
the battlefield (which may easily happen) I will com- 
municate the news of your death to your family that 
they may mourn for you and inherit your share of 
things. If you lose an arm or a leg I will pay you what 
they arc worth; but if you remain alive and are no longer 
fit to carry your knapsack I will dismiss you, and you 
can go and die where you like. That will no longer 
concern me.' CLAUDE TILLIER. 

But I learnt discipline, namely, that the corporal is 
always right when he addresses a private, the sergeant 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 215 

when he addresses a corporal, the sub-lieutenant when 
he addresses a sergeant-major, and so on up to the Field- 
Marshal even should they say that twice two is five ! 

It is at first difficult to grasp this, but there is some- 
thing which will help you to understand it. It is a notice 
stuck up in the barracks, and which is read to you from 
time to time in order to clear your ideas. This notice 
sets out all that a soldier may wish to do: to return to 
his village, to refuse to serve, to disobev his commander, 
and so on and for all this the penalty is mentioned: 
capital punishment, or five years' penal servitude. 

LRCKMANN-CHATRIAN. 

I have bought a negro, he is mine. He works like a 
horse. I feed him badly, I clothe him similarlv, he is 
beaten when he disobeys. Is theie anything surprising 
in that? Do we treat our soldiers any better? Aie they 
not deprived of liberty like this negro? The only differ- 
ence is that the soldier costs much less. A good negro 
is now worth at least five hundred ecus, a good soldier 
is hardly worth fifty. Neither the one noi the other may 
quit the place where he is confined. Both are beaten 
for the slightest fault. Their salary is about the same. 
But the negro has this advantage over the soldier: he 
does not risk his life but passes it with his wife and 
children. 

Questions sur VEncyclopedie^ par des amateurs, Art. 

Esclavage. 

It is as if neither Voltaire, nor Montaigne, nor 
Pascal, nor Swift, nor Kant, nor Spinoza, had ever 
existed, nor the hundreds of other writers who have 
very forcibly exposed the madness and futility of 
war, and described its cruelty, immorality, and 
savagery. Above all it is as if Jesus and his teaching 
of human brotherhood and love of God and man 
had never existed. 

Recalling all this and looking around on what is 
happening now, one experiences horror less at the 
abominations of war than at that most horrible 



2i6 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

of all horrors, the consciousness of the impotence 

of human reason. 

Reason, which alone distinguishes man from the 
brutes and constitutes his true dignity, is now 
regarded as an unnecessary, useless, and even 
pernicious attribute, which simply impedes action, 
like a bridle dangling from a horse's head, merely 
entangling his legs and irritating him. 

It is understandable that a pagan, a Greek, a 
Roman, or even a medieval Christian ignorant of 
the Gospel and blindly believing all the prescrip- 
tions of the Church, might fight and while fighting 
pride himself on his military calling. But how can 
a believing Christian, or even a sceptic involun- 
tarily permeated by the Christian ideals of human 
brotherhood and love which have inspired the 
works of the philosophers, moralists, and artists of 
our time how can such a man take a gun or 
stand by a cannon and aim at a crowd of his fellow 
men, desiring to kill as many of them as possible? 

The Assyrians, Romans, or Greeks might be 
convinced that when fighting they not only acted 
according to their conscience but even performed 
a good action. But we are Christians whether we 
wish it or not, and the general spirit of Christianity 
(however it may have been distorted) has lifted 
us to a higher plane of reason, whence we cannot 
but feel with our whole being not only the sense- 
lessness and cruelty of war but its complete contrast 
to all that we regard as good and right. And so 
we cannot quietly do as they did with assurance 
and firmness. We cannot do it without a con- 
sciousness of our criminality, without the desperate 
feeling of a murderer who having begun to kill 
his victim and aware in the depths of his soul of 
his guilt, tries to stupefy or infuriate himself in 
order to be able to complete his dreadful deed. All 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 217 

the unnatural, feverish, hot-headed, insane excite- 
ment that has now seized the idle upper ranks of 
Russian society, is merely a symptom of their con- 
sciousness of the criminality of what is being done. 
All these swaggering mendacious speeches about 
devotion to, and worship of, the monarch, all this 
readiness to sacrifice their lives (they should say 
other people's lives) ; all these promises to defend 
with their breasts land that does not belong to 
them; all these senseless blessings of one another 
with various banners and monstrous icons; all 
these Te Deums; all this preparation of blankets 
and bandages; all these detachments of nurses; all 
these contributions to the fleet and to the Red Cross 
presented to the government \\hose direct duty 
it is, having declared war (and being able to collect 
as much money as it requires from the people) , to 
organize the necessary fleet and necessary means 
for attending the wounded all these pompous, 
senseless, and blasphemous Slavonic prayers, the 
utterance of which in various towns the papers 
report as important news; all these processions, calls 
for the national anthem, and shouts of hurrah ; all 
this desperate newspaper mendacity which has no 
fear of exposure, because it is so general; all this 
stupefaction and brutalization in which Russian 
society is now plunged, and which is transmitted 
by degrees to the masses all this is merely a 
symptom of the consciousness of guilt in the dread- 
ful thing which is being done. 

Spontaneous feeling tells men that what they are 
doing is wrong, but as a murderer who has begun 
to assassinate his victim cannot stop, so the fact 
of the deadly work having been begun seems to 
Russian people an unanswerable reason in its 
favour. War has begun, and so it must go on. So 
it seems to simple, benighted, unlearned men under 



218 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

the influence of the petty passions and stupefaction 
to which they have been subjected. And in the 
same way the most learned men of our time demon- 
strate that man has no free will, and that therefore, 
even if he understands that the thing he has begun 
is evil, he cannot stop doing it. 

And so dazed and brutalized men continue the 
dreadful work. 

IV 

It is amazing to what an extent the most insignificant 
disagreement can become a sacred war, thanks to diplo- 
macy and the newspapers. When England and France 
declared war on Rusbia in 1853 it came about from 
such insignificant reasons that a long search among the 
diplomatic archives is necessary to discover it. ... The 
death of five hundred thousand good men, and the 
expenditure of from five to six milliards of money, were 
the consequences of that strange misunderstanding. 

Motives existed. But they were such as were not 
acknowledged. Napoleon the Third wished by an 
alliance with England and a successful war to consolidate 
his power which was of criminal origin. The Russians 
hoped to obtain possession of Constantinople. The 
English wished to assure the triumph of their com- 
merce, and to hinder Russian influence in the East. In 
one shape or another it is always the spirit of conquest 
or of violence. CHARLES RIGHET. 

Can anything be stupider than that a man has the 
right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a 
river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I 
have not quarrelled with him? PASCAL. 

The inhabitants of the planet Earth are still in such 
a ridiculous state of unintelligence and stupidity that 
we read every day in the newspapers of the civilized 
countries a discussion of the diplomatic relations of the 
chiefs of states aiming at an alliance against a supposed 
enemy and preparations for war, and that the nations 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 219 

allow their leaders to dispose of them like cattle led to 
the slaughter, as though never suspecting that the life 
of each man is his personal property. 

The inhabitants of this singular planet have been 
reared in the conviction that there are nations, frontiers, 
and standards, and they have such a feeble sense of 
humanity that that feeling is completely effaced by the 
sense of the Fatherland. ... It is true that if those who 
think could come to an agreement this situation would 
change, for individually no one desires war. . . . But 
there exist these political combinations which furnish 
livelihood for a legion of parasites. FLAMMARION. 

When we study, not superficially but fundamentally, 
the various activities of mankind, we cannot avoid this 
sad reflection: How many lives are expended for the 
perpetuation of the power of evil on earth, and how this 
evil is promoted most of all by permanent armies. 

Our astonishment and feeling of sadness increase when 
we consider that this is all unnecessary, and that this 
evil complacently accepted by the immense majority of 
men cornes about merely through their stupidity in 
allowing a comparatively small number of agile and 
perverted people to exploit them. PATRICE LARROQUE. 

Ask a soldier a private, a corporal, or a non- 
commissioned officer who has abandoned his old 
parents, his wife and children, why he is preparing 
to kill men he does not know, and he will at first 
be surprised at your question. He is a soldier, 
has taken the oath, and must fulfil the orders of 
his commanders. If you tell him that war, that is 
the slaughter of men, does not conform to the 
command 'Thou shalt not kill', he will say: 'But 
how if our people are attacked?' . . . 'For the Tsar 
and the Orthodox Faith! 5 (In answer to my 
question one of them said : 'But how if he attacks 
what is sacred?' 'What do you mean?' I asked. 
'Why,' said he, 'the flag.') If you try to explain to 



220 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

such a soldier that God's command is more im- 
portant than the flag, or than anything in the 
world, he will become silent or will get angry and 
report you to the authorities. 

Ask an officer or a general why he goes to the 
war. He will tell you that he is a military man, and 
that military men are indispensable for the defence 
of the Fatherland. It does not trouble him that 
murder is not in agreement with the spirit of the 
Christian law, because he either does not believe 
in that law or, if he does, he does not believe in 
that law itself but in some explanation that has 
been given of it. Above all (like the soldier) he 
always puts a general question about the State or 
the Fatherland, instead of the personal question 
what he himself should do. 'At the present time 
when the Fatherland is in danger one must act 
and not argue,' he will say. 

Ask the diplomatists who by their deceptions pre- 
pare wars why they do it? They will tell you that 
the object of their activity is the establishment of 
peace among nations, and that this object is at- 
tained not by ideal, unrealizable theories, but by 
diplomatic activity and being prepared for war. 
And just as military men put a general question 
instead of a personal one affecting their own life, 
so the diplomatists will speak of the interests of 
Russia, of the perfidy of other Powers, or of the 
balance of power in Europe, instead of about their 
own life and activity. 

Ask journalists why they incite men to war by 
their writings. They will say that in general wars 
are necessary and useful, especially the present one, 
and they will confirm this by misty patriotic 
phrases, and (like the military men and the diplo- 
matists) will talk about the general interests of the 
nation, the State, civilization, and the White Race, 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 221 

instead of saying why they themselves particular 
individuals and living men act in a certain way. 

And all those who prepare war will explain their 
participation in that work in just the same way. 
They will perhaps agree that it would be desirable 
to abolish war, but at present, they say, that is 
impossible; at present as Russians, and as men 
occupying certain positions: marshals of the gentry, 
members of local government, doctors, workers in 
the Red Cross they are called on to act and not 
to argue. 'There is no time to argue and think 
about ourselves,' they will say, 'while there is a 
great common work to be done.' 

The Tsar, apparently responsible for the whole 
affair, will say the same. Like the soldier he will 
be astonished at being asked whether war is now 
necessary. He does not even admit the idea that 
it might yet be stopped. He will say that he cannot 
fail to fulfil what is demanded of him by the whole 
nation, that though he recognizes war to be a 
great evil and has used and is ready to use every 
possible means to abolish it in the present case 
he could not help declaring war and cannot but 
go on with it. It is necessary for the welfare and 
glory of Russia. 

Every one of these men, to the question why he, 
Ivan, Peter, or Nicholas, recognizing the Christian 
law as binding on him the law forbidding the 
killing of one's neighbour and demanding that one 
should love and serve him permits himself to take 
part in war (that is in violence, loot, and murder) 
will always answer that he does so for his Fatherland 
or his faith or his oath or his honour or for civiliza- 
tion or for the future welfare of all mankind 
in general for something abstract and indefinite. 
Moreover, all these men are always so urgently 
occupied, either by preparation for war or its 



222 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

organization or by discussions about it, that their 
leisure is taken up in resting from their labours, 
and they have no time for discussions about their 
life, and regard such discussions as idle. 



The mind revolts at the inevitable catastrophe awaiting 
us, but it is necessary to prepare for it. For twenty years 
all the powers of knowledge have been exhausted in 
inventing engines of destruction, and soon a few cannon 
shots will suffice to destroy a whole army. 

It is no longer as formerly a few thousand mercenary 
wretches who are under arms, but whole nations are 
preparing to kill one another. . . . And in order to fit 
them for murder their hatred is excited by assurances 
that they themselves are hated. And kind-hearted men 
will believe this, and peaceful citizens having received 
an absurd order to slay one another for God knows what 
ridiculous boundary incident or commercial colonial 
interests, will soon fling themselves at one another with 
the ferocity of wild beasts. 

And they will go to the slaughter like sheep, but with 
a knowledge of where they are going, and that they ate 
leaving their wives and that their children will be 
hungry. But they will be so deceived and inebriated 
by false, highflown words, that they will call on God 
to bless their bloody deeds. And they will go with 
enthusiastic songs, cries of joy and festive music, tramp- 
ling down the harvest they have sown and burning towns 
they have built go without indignation, humbly and 
submissively, despite the fact that the strength is theirs 
and that if they could only agree, they could establish 
common-sense and fraternity in place of the savage 
frauds of diplomacy. EDOUARD ROD. 

An eye-witness relates what he saw when he stepped 
on to the deck of the Varyag during the present Russo- 
Japanese war. The sight was dreadful. Headless trunks, 
arms that had been torn off, and fragments of flesh, were 
lying about in profusion, and everywhere there was 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 223 

blood, and a smell of blood which nauseated even those 
most accustomed to it. The conning- tower had suffered 
most a shell had exploded on it and had killed a young 
officer who was directing the sighting of the guns. All 
that was left of that unfortunate young man was a 
clenched hand holding an instrument; two men who 
were with the captain were blown to pieces, and two 
others were severely wounded (both had to have their 
legs amputated, and then had to undergo a second 
amputation higher up) . The captain escaped \\ ith a blow 
on the head from the splinter of a shell. 

And this is not all. The wounded cannot be taken on 
board neutral ships because of the infection from gan- 
grene and fever. 

Gangrene and suppurating wounds, together with 
hunger, fire, ruin, typhus, small-pox, and other infectious 
diseases, are also incidental to military glory. Such is war. 

And yet Joseph de Maistre sang the praises of the 
beneficence of war: 'When the human soul loses its 
resilience owing to effeminacy, when it becomes un- 
believing and contracts those rotten vices which ac- 
company the superfluities of civilization, it can only be 
re-established in blood.' 

M. de Vogue, the academician, says much the same 
thing, and so does M. Brunetiere. 

But the unfortunates of whom cannon-fodder is made 
have a right to disagree with this. 

Unfortunately, however, they have not the courncre of 
their convictions. Therein lies the whole evil. Aicus- 
tomed from of old to allow themselves to be killed on 
account of questions they do not understand, they con- 
tinue to let this be done, imagining all to be well. 

That is why corpses are now lying beneath the water 
and are being devoured by crabs. 

When everything around them was being demolished 
by grapeshot, these unfortunates can hardly have con- 
soled themselves by the thought that all this was being 
done for their good and to re-establish the soul of their 
contemporaries which had lost its resilience from the 
superfluities of civilization. They had probably not 
read Joseph de Maistre. 



224 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

I advise the wounded to read him between two dress- 
ings, and they will learn that war is as necessary as the 
executioner, because like him it is a manifestation of the 
justice of God. 

This great thought may serve them as consolation 
while the surgeons are sawing their bones ! 

HARDOUIN. 

In the Russian News I read the opinion that Russia's 
advantage lies in her inexhaustible store of human 
material. 

For children whose father is killed, for a wife whose 
husband is killed, for a mother whose son is killed this 
material is quickly exhausted. 

(From a private letter from a Russian mother, March 1904.) 

You ask whether war is still necessary between civilized 
nations? 

I reply that not only is it no longer necessary, but that 
it never has been necessary. It has always violated the 
historical development of humanity, infringed human 
rights, and hindered progress. 

If some of the consequences of war have been ad- 
vantageous to civilization in general, its harmful conse- 
quences have been much greater. We are misled because 
only a part of these harmful consequences is immediately 
apparent. The greater part and the most important 
we do not notice. So we must not accept the word 
'still'. Its acceptance gives the advocates of war the 
opportunity to assert that the difference between them 
and us is only one of temporary expediency or personal 
appraisal, and our disagreement is then reduced to the 
fact that we consider war to be useless, while they con- 
sider it still useful. They readily concede that it may 
become unnecessary and even harmful but only to- 
morrow and not to-day. To-day they consider it neces- 
sary to perform on people these terrible blood-lettings 
which are called wars, and which are made only to 
satisfy the personal ambitions of a very small minority 
to ensure power, honours, and riches, to a small number 
of men to the detriment of the masses whose natural 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 225 

credulity and superstitions these men exploit, together 
with the prejudices created and upheld by them. 

CAPITAINE G ASTON MOCK. 

Men of our Christian world in our time are like 
a man who has missed the right turning and be- 
comes more and more convinced, the farther he 
goes, that he is going the wrong way. Yet the 
greater his doubts the quicker and more desperately 
does he hurry on, consoling himself with the 
thought that he must arrive somewhere. But the 
time comes when it is quite clear that the way 
along which he is going leads only to a precipice 
which he begins to discern before him. 

That is where Christian humanity stands in our 
time. It is quite evident that if we continue to live 
as we are doing guided in our private lives and 
in the lives of our separate states solely by desire 
for personal welfare for ourselves or our states, 
and think, as we now do, to ensure this welfare 
by violence then the means for violence of man 
against man and state against state will inevitably 
increase, and we shall first ruin ourselves more and 
more by expending a major portion of our pro- 
ductivity on armaments; and then become more 
and more degenerate and depraved by killing the 
physically best men in wars. 

If we do not change our way of life this is as 
certain as it is mathematically certain that two 
non-parallel straight lines must meet. And not 
only is it certain theoretically, but in our time our 
feeling as well as our intelligence becomes con- 
vinced of it. The precipice we are approaching is 
already visible, and even the most simple, naive, 
and uneducated people cannot fail to see that by 
arming ourselves increasingly against one another 
and slaughtering one another in war, we must 

459 ! 



22b BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

inevitably come to mutual destruction, like spiders 

in ajar. 

A sincere, serious, and rational man can now 
no longer console himself with the thought that 
matters can be mended, as was formerly supposed, 
by a universal empire such as that of Rome, or 
Charlemagne, or Napoleon, or by the medieval, 
spiritual power of the Pope, or by alliances, the 
political balance of a European concert and peace- 
ful international tribunals, or as some have thought 
by an increase of military forces and the invention 
of new and more powerful weapons of destruction. 

The organization of a universal empire or re- 
public of European states is impossible, for the 
different peoples will never wish to unite into one 
state. Shall we then organize international tri- 
bunals for the solution of international disputes? 
But who would impose obedience to the tribunal's 
decision on a contending party that had an army 
of millions of men? Disarmament? No one desires 
to begin it, or is able to do so. Shall we perhaps 
invent even more dreadful means of destruction 
balloons with bombs filled with suffocating gases 
which men will shower on each other from above? 
Whatever may be invented, every state would 
furnish itself with similar weapons of destruction. 
And as the human cannon-fodder faced the bullets 
that succeeded sword and spear, and the shells, 
bombs, long-range guns, shrapnel, and torpedoes 
that succeeded bullets so it will submit to bombs 
charged with suffocating gases scattered down 
upon it from the air. 

The speeches of M. Muravev and Professor 
Martens as to the Japanese war not conflicting with 
the Hague Peace Conference, show more obviously 
than anything else to what an extent speech the 
organ for the transmission of thought is distorted 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 227 

amongst men of our time, and the capacity for 
clear, rational thinking completely lost. Thought 
and speech are used not to guide human activity 
but to justify any activity however criminal it 
may be. The late Boer war and the present 
Japanese war (which may at any moment expand 
into universal slaughter) have proved this beyond 
all doubt. All anti-war discussions are as useless 
as an attempt to stop a dog-fight by an eloquent 
and convincing speech pointing out to the dogs 
that it would be better to share the piece of meat 
they are struggling over, rather than to bite one 
another and lose the piece of meat which is bound to 
be carried off by some passing non-combatant dog. 

We are rushing on towards the precipice, and 
cannot stop but are tumbling over it. 

No rational man who reflects on the present 
position of humanity and on what its future must 
inevitably be, can help seeing that there is no 
practical way out; that it is impossible to devise 
any alliance or organization that can save us fiom 
the destruction into which we are uncontrollably 
rushing. 

Quite apart from the economic problems which 
become more and more complex, the mutual 
relations of states arming against one another and 
the wars that are ready at any moment to break 
out, clearly indicate the unavoidable destruction 
awaiting so-called civilized humanity. 

Then what is to be done? 

VI 

Towards the close of his mission Jesus proclaimed a 
new society. Before his time nations belonged to one or 
several masters and were their property like so many 
herds. Princes and grandees crushed the world with all 
the weight of their pride and their rapacity. Then Jesus 



220 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

came to put an end to this extreme disorder. He came 
to lift the bowed heads, to emancipate the slaves. He 
taught them that as they are equal before God, so men 
are free in regard to each other, and that no one has any 
intrinsic power over his brothers, that the divine laws 
of the human race equality and liberty are inviolable; 
that power cannot be a right, but is a social duty, a 
service, a kind of bondage freely accepted for the welfare 
of all. Such is the society which Jesus establishes. 

Is that what we now see in the world? Is that the 
doctrine which reigns on earth? Has it conquered the 
Gentiles? Are the rulers of the nations the servants, or 
the masters, of their people? For eighteen centuries 
generation after generation passes on the teaching of 
Christ and says that it believes in it. But what change 
is there in the world? The nations crushed and suffer- 
ing are still awaiting the promised liberation not 
because Christ's words were untrue or unreal, but 
because the people either did not understand that the 
fruits of the teaching must be secured by an effort of 
their own will, or because numbed by their humiliations 
they did not do the one thing that brings victory they 
were not ready to die for the truth. But they will awaken ; 
something is already stirring within them; they have 
heard as it were a voice that cries: *Salvation draws 

nigh.' LAMENNAIS. 

To the glory of humanity it must be said that the 
nineteenth century tends to approach a new path. It 
has learned that laws and tribunals should exist for 
nations, and that, because they are accomplished on 
a larger scale, crimes committed by nations against 
nations are not less hateful than crimes committed 
amongst individuals. QUETELET. 

All men are one in origin, one in the law that governs 
them, and one in the goal they are destined to attain. 

Your faith must be one, your actions one, and one 
the banner under which you contend. Acts, tears, and 
martyrdoms, form a language common to all men and 
which all men understand. j. MAZZINI. 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 229 

No, I appeal to the revolt of the conscience of every 
man who has seen, or made, the blood of his fellow 
citizens flow; it is not enough that one single head should 
carry a burden as heavy as that of so many murders; as 
many heads as there are combatants would not be too 
many. In order to be responsible for the law of blood 
which they execute, it would be just that they should at 
least have understood it. But the best organizations 
which I advocate would in themselves be only tem- 
porary; for I repeat once more, that armies and war 
will only lait awhile; as, notwithstanding the words of 
a sophist which I have elsewhere controverted, it is not 
true that war, even against the foreigner, is divine; it 
is not true that the earth is thirsting jor blood. War is 
accursed of God and even of those men who make it and 
who have a secret horror of it; and the earth cries to 
heaven praying for fresh water in its rivers, and for the 
pure dew of its clouds. ALFRED DE VIGNY. 

Men are made as little to coerce as to obey, and 
mutually deprave one another by those two habits. Here 
stultification, there insolence, nowhere true human 
dignity. v. p. CONSIDER A.NT. 

If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one of them 
would remain in the army. FREDERICK THE GREAT. 



Two thousand years ago John the Baptist, and 
after him Jesus, said to the people: 'The time is 
fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. 
Bethink yourselves (/zcravoctre) and believe in the 
Gospel.' (Mark i. 15.) 'And if you do not bethink 
yourselves you will all perish.' (Luke xiii. 5.) 

But men did not listen, and the destruction fore- 
told is already near at hand, as men of our time 
cannot but see. We are already perishing, and 
therefore we cannot close our ears to that means of 
salvation given of old, but new to us. We cannot 
but see that besides all the other calamities that 



230 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

flow from our evil and irrational life, military 
preparations alone and the wars resulting from 
them must inevitably destroy us. We cannot but 
see that all the practical means devised for escape 
from these evils are and must be ineffectual, and 
that the disastrous plight of nations arming them- 
selves one against another must continually become 
worse. Therefore the words of Jesus apply to us 
and our time more than to anyone else or any other 
time. 

He said, 'Bethink yourselves!' that is, let every 
man interrupt his work and ask himself: Who am 
I? Whence have I come? And what is my voca- 
tion? And having answered these questions let him 
decide, according to the answer, whether what he 
does is in accord with his vocation. It is only 
necessary for each man of our world and time (that 
is each man acquainted with the essence of the 
Christian teaching) to interrupt his activity for 
a minute, forget what people consider him to be 
emperor, soldier, minister, or journalist and 
seriously ask himself who he is and what is his 
vocation, and he will at once doubt the utility, 
rightfulness, and reasonableness of his activity. 
'Before I am emperor, soldier, minister, or journal- 
ist, 5 every man of our Christian world should say 
to himself, 'before all else I am a man, that is, an 
organic being sent by the higher will into a uni- 
verse endless in time and space, where after staying 
in it for an instant, I shall die that is disappear 
from it. Therefore all those personal, social, or 
even universal human aims which I set before 
myself and which are set before me by men, are 
insignificant because of the brevity of my life as 
well as the illimitability of the life of the universe, 
and should be subordinated to that higher aim for 
the attainment of which I am sent into the world. 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 231 

That ultimate aim, owing to my limitations, is not 
apprehended by me, but it exists (as there must be 
a purpose in everything that exists), and my busi- 
ness is to be its tool. My vocation therefore is to 
be God's workman, fulfilling His work.' And hav- 
ing understood his vocation in this way, every man 
of our world and time, from emperor to soldier, 
cannot help seeing with different eyes the duties 
which he has taken upon himself or which others 
have laid upon him. 

'Before I was crowned and recognized as Em- 
peror,' the Emperor should say to himself, 'before 
I undertook to fulfil the duties of head of the state, 
I promised by the very fact that I am alive, to 
fulfil what is demanded of me by that higher will 
which sent me into life. I not only know those 
demands but I feel them in my heart. They con- 
sist, as is said in the Christian law which I profess, 
in submitting to the will of God and fulfilling what 
it requires of me, namely, that I should love my 
neighbour, serve him, and do to him as I would 
wish him to do to me. Am I doing this by ruling 
men, ordering violence, executions, and most 
dreadful of all wars? 

'Men tell me that I ought to do this. But God 
says that I ought to do something quite different. 
And therefore, however much I may be told that as 
head of the state I must order deeds of violence, 
the levying of taxes, executions, and above all war 
that is the killing of my fellow men I do not 
wish to, and cannot, do these things. 5 

And the soldier who is instigated to kill men 
should say the same thing to himself, and so 
should the minister who deems it his duty to pre- 
pare for war and the journalist who incites men 
to war, and every man who has put to himself the 
question who he is and what is his vocation in life. 



232 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

And as soon as the head of the state ceases to direct 
war, the soldier to fight, the minister to prepare 
means for war, and the journalist to incite men 
thereto then without any new institutions, de- 
vices, balance of power, or tribunals, that hopeless 
position in which people have placed themselves 
not only as regards war but as regards all their other 
self-inflicted calamities will cease to exist. 

So that, strange as this may seem, the surest and 
most certain deliverance for men from all their 
self-inflicted calamities, even the most dreadful of 
them war is attainable not by any external 
general measures but by that simple appeal to the 
consciousness of each individual man which was 
presented by Jesus nineteen hundred years ago 
that every man should bethink himself and ask 
himself who he is, why he lives, and what he should 
and should not do. 

VII 

There is a widespread impression abroad that religion 
may not be a permanent element in human nature. 
Many are telling us that it is a phase of thought, of 
feeling, of life, peculiar to the early and comparatively 
uncultivated stages of man's career, that it is something 
which civilized man will progressively outgrow and at 
last leave behind. ... I do not think we need be specially 
troubled over this problem. We ought to be able to 
look at it dispassionately, because if religion is only 
superstition, why then of course it ought to be outgrown. 
, . . If on the other hand religion is divine, if it is essential 
to the highest and noblest human life, then criticism and 
question will only verify this fact. ... If you find some 
mark on a coin, if you find it on every one of the coins, 
you feel perfectly certain that there is some reality in the 
die that stamps the coin, which accounts for that mark. 
It was not there for nothing, it did not simply happen. 

So wherever you find any universal or permanently 
characteristic quality in human nature, or any other 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 233 

nature for that matter, you may feel perfectly certain 
that there is something real in the universe that corre- 
sponds to it and called it out. 

You find man, then, universally a religious being. 
You find him everywhere believing that he is confronted 
with an invisible universe. On any theory you choose to 
hold about this universe, it has made us what we are; 
and there must be unless the universe is a lie a reality 
corresponding to that which is universal and permanent 
and real in ourselves, because this universe has called 
these things into being and has made them what they are. 
MINOT j. SAVAGE, The Passing and the Permanent 

in Religion. 

The religious clement, contemplated from that 
elevated standpoint, becomes thus the highest and noblest 
factor in man's education, the greatest potency in his 
civilization, while effete creeds and political selfishness 
are the greatest obstacles to human advance. Statecraft 
and priestcraft are the very opposite of religion. . . . Our 
study here has shown the religious substance everywhere 
to be identical, eternal, and divine, permeating the 
human heart wherever it throbs, feels, and meditates. 
. . . The logical results of our researches all point to the 
identical basis of the great religions, to the one doctrine 
unfolding since the dawn of humanity to this day. . . . 
Deep at the bottom of all the creeds flows the stream 
of the one eternal revelation, the one religion, the 'word 
of God to the mind of man*. 

Let the Parsee wear his taavids, the Jew his phylac- 
teries, the Christian his cross, and the Moslem his 
crescent; but let them all remember that these are forms 
and emblems, while the practical essence is: 'Thou shalt 
love thy neighbour as thyself* equally emphasized and 
accentuated by Manu, Zoroaster, Buddha, Abraham, 
Moses, Socrates, Hill el, Jesus, Paul, and Mohammed. 

MAURICE FLEUGEL. 

No true society can exist without a common faith and 
common purpose. Political activity is their application, 
and religion supplies their principle. Where this common 



234 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

faith is lacking the will of the majority rules, showing 
itself in constant instability and the oppression of others. 
Without God it is possible to coerce, but not to persuade. 
Without God the majority will be a tyrant, but not an 
educator of the people. 

What we need, what the people need, what the age 
is crying for that it may find an issue from the slough 
of selfishness, doubt, and negation in which it is sub- 
merged is faith, in which our souls, ceasing to wander 
in search of individual ends, can march together in 
consciousness of one origin, one law, one goal. Everv 
strong faith that arises on the ruins of old and outlived 
beliefs, changes the existing social order, for every strong 
faith inevitably influences all departments of human 
activity. 

In different forms and different degrees, humanity 
repeats the words of the Lord's prayer: 'Thy kingdom 
come on earth as in heaven.' MAZZINI. 

A man may regard himself as an animal among 
animals, living for the passing day, or he may consider 
himself as a member of a family, a society, or a nation, 
living for centuries ; or he may and even must (for reason 
irresistibly prompts him to this) consider himself as part 
of the whole infinite universe existing eternally. And 
therefore a reasonable man, besides his relation to the 
immediate facts of life, must always set up his relation 
to the whole immense Infinite in time and space, con- 
ceived as one whole. And such establishment of man's 
relation to that whole of which he feels himself to be a 
part and from which he draws guidance for his actions, 
is what has been called and is called religion. And 
therefore religion always has been, and cannot cease to 
be, a necessary and indispensable condition of the life 
of a reasonable man and of all reasonable humanity. 
LEO TOLST6Y, What is Religion? 

Religion (regarded objectively) is the recognition of 
all our duties as the commands of God. . . . 

There is only one true religion, though there may be 
various faiths. KANT. 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 235 

The evil from which men of our time are suffer- 
ing comes from the fact that the majority of them 
live without what alone affords a rational guidance 
for human activity, namely religion not a religion 
that consists in a belief in dogmas, the fulfilment 
of rites affording a pleasant diversion, consolation, 
or stimulant, but a religion which establishes the 
relation of man to the All, to God, and therefore 
gives a general higher direction to all human 
activity, and without which people stand on the 
plane of animals, or even lower than they. This 
evil, leading men to inevitable destruction, has 
shown itself with particular strength in our time, 
because men, having lost a rational guidance in 
life and having directed all their efforts to dis- 
coveries and improvements chiefly in the sphere 
of technical knowledge, have developed enormous 
power over the forces of nature, but lacking guid- 
ance for its rational application have naturally used 
it for the satisfaction of their lower animal impulses. 
Bereft of religion, men possessing enormous 
power over the forces of nature are like children to 
whom gunpowder or explosive gas has been given 
as a plaything. Considering this power that men 
of our time possess, and the way they use it, one 
feels that their degree of moral development does 
not really qualify them to use railways, steam- 
power, electricity, telephones, photography, wire- 
less telegraphy, or even to manufacture iron and 
steel for they use all these things merely to satisfy 
their desires, amuse themselves, become dissipated, 
and destroy one another. 

Then what is to be done? Discard all these im- 
provements, all this power mankind has acquired? 
Forget what it has learnt? That is impossible ! How- 
ever harmfully these mental acquisitions are used, 
they are still acquisitions, and men cannot forget 



236 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

them. Alter those combinations of nations which 
have been formed during centuries and establish 
new ones? Invent new institutions which would 
prevent the minority from deceiving and exploit- 
ing the majority? Diffuse knowledge? All this has 
been tried and is being tried with great fervour. 
All these supposed improvements supply a chiei 
means to distract and divert men's attention from 
the consciousness of inevitable destruction. The 
boundaries of states are altered, institutions are 
changed, knowledge is disseminated, but with 
these other boundaries, other organizations, and 
increased knowledge, men remain the same beasts 
ready at any moment to tear each other to pieces, 
or the same slaves they always have been and will 
be as long as they continue to be guided not by 
religious consciousness but by passions, theories, 
and external suggestions. 

Man has no choice : he must be the slave of the 
most unscrupulous and insolent among slaves, or 
else a servant of God, because there is but one 
way for man to be free by uniting his will with the 
will of God. Some people bereft of religion re- 
pudiate religion itself, others regard as religion 
those external perverted forms that have super- 
seded it, and guided only by their personal desires 
by fear, human laws, or chiefly by mutual hypno- 
tism they cannot cease to be animals or slaves, 
and no external efforts can release them from this 
state, for religion alone makes man free. 

And most men of our time lack it. 

VIII 

Do not that which thy conscience condemns, and say 
not that which does not agree with truth. Fulfil this, the 
most important duty, and thou wilt have fulfilled all 
the object of thy life. 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 237 

No one can coerce thy will, it is accessible neither to 
thief nor robber; desire not that which is unreasonable, 
desire general welfare, and not personal as do the 
majority of men. The object of life is not to be on the 
side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in 
the ranks of the insane. . . . 

Remember that there is a God who desires not praise 
nor glory from men created in his image, but rather that 
they, guided by the understanding given them, should 
in their actions become like unto him. A fig tree is true 
to its purpose, so is the dog, so also are bees. Then is 
it possible that man shall not fulfil his vocation? But, 
alas, these great and sacred truths vanish from thy 
memory, the bustle of daily life, war, unreasonable fear, 
spiritual debility, and the habit of being a slave, stifle 
them. . . . 

A small branch cut from the main branch has become 
thereby separated from the whole tree. A man in emnity 
with another man is severed from the whole of mankind. 
But a branch is cut off by another's hand, whereas man 
estranges himself from his neighbour by hatred and spite, 
without it is true knowing that thereby he tears himself 
away from the whole of mankind. But the Divinity 
having called men into common life as brothers, has 
endowed them with freedom to become reconciled to 
each other after dissension. MARCUS AURELIUS. 

Enlightenment is the escape of man from his own 
childishness, which he himself maintains. The childish- 
ness consists in his incapacity to use his reason without 
another's guidance. He himself maintains this childishness 
when it is the result of an insufficiency, not of reason but 
of the decision and manliness to use it without another *s 
guidance. 'Sapere aude!' 

Hav.e the manliness to use thine own reason. This is 
the motto of enlightenment. KANT. 

One must extricate the religion Jesus professed from 
the religion of which Jesus is the object. And when we 
have laid our finger upon the state of conscience which 



238 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

is the original cell, the basis of the eternal Gospel, we 
must hold on to it. 

As the faint illuminations of a village festival, or the 
miserable candles of a procession, disappear before the 
great marvel of the sun's light, so also small local 
miracles, accidental and doubtful, will flicker out before 
the law of the world of the Spirit, before the incom- 
parable spectacle of human history guided by God. 

AMIEL, Fragments d'un journal intime. 

I recognize the following proposition as needing no 
proof: all by which man thinks he can please God, 
save a good life, is merely religious error and super- 
stition. KANT. 

In reality there is only one means of worshipping 
God it is by the fulfilment of one's duties, and by acting 
in accord with the laws of reason. 

G. C. LICHTENBERG. 

'But in order to abolish the evil from which we 
are suffering, 3 those who are preoccupied by various 
practical activities will say, 'it would be necessary 
not for a few men only, but all men, to bethink 
themselves, and having done so to understand the 
vocation of their lives to lie in the fulfilment of the 
will of God and the service of their neighbour. 
Is that possible?' 

Not only is it possible, I reply, but it is impos- 
sible that it should not be so. 

It is impossible for men not to bethink themselves 
impossible, that is, for each man not to put to 
himself the question who he is, and why he lives ; 
for man as a rational being cannot live without 
a knowledge of why he lives, and has always put 
that question to himself, and according to the 
degree of his development has always answered 
it in his religious teaching. In our time the inner 
contradiction men feel themselves to be in, pre- 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 239 

sents this question with particular insistence and 
demands an answer. It is impossible for men of 
our time to answer this question otherwise than by 
recognizing the law of life to lie in love to men and 
the service of them, for this for our time is the only 
rational answer as to the meaning of human life, 
and this answer was expressed nineteen hundred 
years ago in the Christian religion and is known 
in the same way to the great majority of all 
mankind. 

This answer lives in a latent state in the con- 
sciousness of all people of the Christian world of 
our time. It does not openly express itself and 
serve as guidance for our life, only because on the 
one hand those who enjoy the greatest authority 
the so-called scientists being under the coarse 
delusion that religion is a temporary stage in the 
development of mankind which they have out- 
grown, and that men can live without religion, 
impress this error on those of the masses who are 
beginning to be educated, and on the other hand 
because those in power consciously or uncon- 
sciously (being themselves under the delusion that 
the Church faith is the Christian religion) try to 
support and promote in people the crude supersti- 
tions that are given out as the Christian religion. 

If only these two deceptions were destroyed, 
true religion, which is already latent in people of 
our time, would become evident and obligatory. 

To bring this about it is necessary that, on the 
one hand, men of science should understand that 
the principle of the brotherhood of all men and 
the rule of not doing to others what one does not 
wish for oneself, is not a casual conception, one 
of a multitude of human theories that can be 
subordinated to other considerations, but is an 
indubitable principle standing higher than other 



240 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

perceptions and flowing from the unalterable 
relations of man to the eternal to God and is 
religion, all religion, and therefore always obli- 
gatory. 

On the other hand it is necessary that those who 
consciously or unconsciously preach crude super- 
stitions under the guise of Christianity, should 
understand that all these dogmas, sacraments, and 
rites which they support and preach, are not 
harmless as they suppose, but are in the highest 
degree harmful, concealing from men that one 
religious truth which is expressed in the fulfilment 
of God's will the brotherhood of man and service 
of man and that the rule of doing to others as 
you wish others to do to you is not one of the 
prescriptions of the Christian religion but is the 
whole of practical religion, as is said in the Gospels. 

That men of our time should uniformly place 
before themselves the question of the meaning of 
life, and uniformly answer it, it is only necessary 
for those who regard themselves as enlightened to 
cease to think and impress on others that religion 
is atavistic the survival of a savage past and 
that for the good life of men a spreading of educa- 
tion is sufficient, that is, the spread of very mis- 
cellaneous knowledge which is somehow to bring 
men to justice and a moral life. 1 These men should 
understand instead that for the good life of 
humanity religion is vital, and that this religion 
already exists and lives in the consciousness of the 
men of our time; and people who are intentionally 
and unintentionally stupefying the people by 
Church superstitions should cease to do so, and 
should recognize that what is important and 

1 See in the essay Religion and Morality (vol. xii of the Centen- 
ary Edition, p. 192) Tolstoy's reply to Thomas Huxley'i 
Romanes Lecture in 1894. A. M. 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 241 

obligatory in Christianity is not baptism, or the 
sacraments, or the profession of dogmas, and so 
forth, but only love to God and one's neighbour, 
and the fulfilment of the command to act towards 
others as you wish others to act towards you, and 
that in this is all the law and the prophets. 

If only this were understood both by pseudo- 
Christians and by men of science, and these simple, 
clear, and necessary truths were preached to child- 
ren and to the uneducated, as they now preach their 
complicated, confused, and unnecessary theories, all 
men would understand the meaning of their lives 
uniformly and recognize the same duties as flowing 
therefrom. 



IX 

(A letter from a Russian peasant who refused Military 

Service] 

On October I5th, 1895, I was called up for conscrip- 
tion. When my turn came to diaw the lot I said I 
would not do so. The officials looked at me, consulted 
together, and asked me why I refused. 

I answered that it was because I was not going either 
to take the oath or to cairy a gun. 

They said that that would be seen to later, but now 
I must draw the lot. 

I refused once more. Then they told the village Elder 
to draw the lot. He did so and number 674 came out. 
It was written down. 

The military commander entered, called me into his 
office, and asked: *Who taught you all this that you 
don't want to take the oath?' 

*J learnt it myself by reading the Gospel,' I answered. 

'I don't think you are able to understand the Gospel,' 
he replied. 'Everything there is incomprehensible. To 
understand it one has to learn a great deal.' 

To this I said that Jesus did not teach anything 



242 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

incomprehensible, for even the simplest uneducated 
people understood his teaching. 

Then he told a soldier to take me to the barracks. 
I went to the kitchen with him and we had dinner there. 

After dinner they asked me why I had not taken the 
oath. 

'Because it is said in the Gospel: Swear not at all,' 
I replied. 

They were astonished. Then they asked me: 'Is that 
really in the Gospel? Find it for us.' 

I found the passage, read it out, and they listened. 

'But even if it is there,' they said, 'you can't refuse to 
take the oath or you'll be tortured.' 

'Who loses his earthly life will inherit eternal life,' 
I replied. . . . 

On the 2Oth I was placed in a row with other young 
soldiers, and the military rules were explained to us. 
I told them that I would fulfil nothing of this. They 
asked why. 

I said: 'Because as a Christian I will not bear arms 
or defend myself from enemies, for Christ commanded 
us to love even our enemies.' 

'But are you the only Christian?' they asked. 'Why, 
we are all Christians!' 

'I know nothing about others,' I replied. 'I only 
know for myself that Jesus told us to do what I am now 
doing.' 

The commander said: 'If you won't drill, I'll let you 
rot in prison.' 

To this I replied: 'Do what you like with me, but I 
won't serve.' 

To-day a commission examined me. The general said 
to the officers : 'What opinions has this suckling got hold 
of that he refuses service? Millions serve, and he alone 
refuses. Have him well flogged, then he will change his 
views. . . .' 

Olkhovfk was transported to the Amur. On the 
steamer everybody fasted during Lent, but he refused. 
The soldiers asked him why. He explained. Another 
soldier (Sereda) joined in the conversation. Olkhovik 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 243 

opened the Gospel and began to read the fifth chapter 
of Matthew. Having read it, he said : 'Jesus forbids the 
oath, courts of justice, and war, but all this is done 
among us and is considered legitimate.' A crowd of 
soldiers had collected around, and remarked that 
Sereda was not wearing a cross on his neck. 'Where is 
your cross?' they asked. 

'In my box,' he answered. 

They asked again: 'Why don't you wear it?' 

'Because I love Jesus/ he replied, 'and so I can*t 
wear the thing on \\hich he was crucified.' 

Then two non-commissioned officers came up and 
began talking to Sereda. They said: 'How is it that not 
long ago you used to fast, but now you have taken off 
your cross?' 

He replied : 'Because I was then in the dark and did not 
see the light, but now I have begun to read the Gospel 
and have learnt that a Christian need not do all that.' 

Then they said: 'Does this mean that like Olkhovik 
you won't serve?' 

'Yes,' he replied. 

They asked why, and he answered: 'Because I am 
a Christian, and Christians must not take arms against 
men.' 

Sereda was arrested, and together with Olkhovik was 
exiled to the province of Yakutsk, where they now are. 
From The Letters of P. V. Olkhovik. 

On January 2yth, 1894, in the Voronezh prison 
hospital, a man named Drozhin, formerly a village 
teacher in Kursk province, died of pneumonia. His body 
was thrown into a grave in the prison cemetery like the 
bodies of all the criminals who die in the prison. Yet 
he was one of the saintliest, purest, and most truthful 
men that ever lived. 

In August 1891 he was called up for conscription, 
but, considering all men to be his brothers and regarding 
murder and violence as the greatest sins against con- 
science and the will of God, he refused to be a soldier 
and to bear arms. Also, considering it a sin to surrender 
his will into the power of others who might demand 



244 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

evil actions of him, he refused to take the oath. Men 
whose lives are founded on violence and murder con- 
demned him first to one year's solitary confinement in 
Kharkov, but later he was transferred to the Voronezh 
penal battalion where for fifteen months he was tortured 
by cold, hunger, and solitary confinement. Finally, 
when consumption developed from his incessant suffer- 
ings and privations and he was recognized as unfit for 
military service, he was transferred to the civil prison 
where he was to remain confined for another nine years. 
But while being transferred from the penal battalion 
to the prison on an extremely frosty day, the police 
officials neglected to furnish him with a warm coat. 
The party remained for a long time in the street in front 
of the police station, and this caused him to catch such 
a cold that pneumonia set in from which he died twenty- 
two days later. 

The day before his death Drozhin said to the doctor: 
'Though I have not lived long, I die with a consciousness 
of having acted in accord with my convictions and my 
conscience. Others of course may judge about this 
better than I can. Perhaps . . . no, I think that I am 
right/ he concluded. 

From The Life and Death of Drozhin. 

Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able 
to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling 
is not against flesh and blood, but against the princi- 
palities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of 
this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness 
in high places. 

Wherefore take up the whole armour of God, that ye 
may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having 
done all, to stand. 

Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, 
and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. 

EPHESIANS vi. 11-14. 

But I shall be asked, how are we to act now 
immediately, among ourselves in Russia at this 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 245 

moment when our foes are already attacking us, 
are killing our people and threatening us? How 
is a Russian soldier, officer, general, tsar, or private 
individual, to act? Are we really to let our enemies 
ruin our dominions, seize the products of our 
labour, carry off prisoners, and kill our men? 
What are we to do now that this thing has begun? 

'But before the work of war began,' every man 
who has reflected should reply, * before all else, the 
work of my life had begun.' And the work of my 
life has nothing to do with recognition of the rights 
of the Chinese, Japanese, or Russians, to Port 
Arthur. The work of my life consists in fulfilling 
the will of Him who sent me into this life. And that 
will is known to me. That will is that I should love 
my neighbour and serve him. Then why should I 
following temporary, casual demands that are 
cruel and irrational deviate from the eternal and 
changeless law of my whole life? If there is a God, 
He w r ill not ask me when I die (which may happen 
at any moment) whether I retained Chinnampo 
with its timber stores, or Port Arthur, or even that 
conglomeration which is called the Russian Em- 
pire, which He did not entrust to my care. He 
will ask me what I have done with that life which 
He has put at my disposal. Did I use it for the 
purpose for which it was intended and under whose 
conditions it was entrusted to me? Have I fulfilled 
His law? 

So that to this question as to what is to be done 
now that war has begun, for me, a man who 
understands his vocation, whatever position I may 
occupy, there can be no other answer than this 
that whatever the circumstances may be, whether 
the war has begun or not, whether thousands of 
Russians or Japanese have been killed, whether 
not only Port Arthur but St. Petersburg and 



246 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

Moscow have been captured I cannot act other- 
wise than as God demands of me, and that there- 
fore I as a man cannot either directly or indirectly, 
whether by organizing, helping, or inciting to it, 
take part in war. / cannot, I do not wish to, and I will 
not. What will happen immediately or later from 
my ceasing to do what is contrary to the will of 
God I do not and cannot know, but I believe that 
from fulfilling the will of God nothing can follow 
but what is good for me and for all men. 

You speak with horror of what would happen if 
we Russians at once ceased to fight and yielded to 
the Japanese all that they wish of us. 

But if it be true that the salvation of mankind 
from brutalization and self-destruction lies solely 
in the establishment among men of true religion, 
demanding that we should love our neighbour 
and serve him (with which it is impossible to dis- 
agree) then every war, every hour of war, and my 
participation in it, only renders the realization of 
this only possible means of salvation more difficult 
and remote. 

So that even looking at it from your precarious 
point of view appraising actions by their pre- 
sumed consequences even so, a yielding by the 
Russians to the Japanese of all that they desire 
of us, apart from the unquestionable advantage of 
ending the ruin and slaughter, would be an 
approach to the only means of saving mankind 
from destruction, whereas the continuance of the 
war, however it may end, would hinder that only 
means of salvation. 

'But even if this be so,' people reply, 'wars can 
cease only when all men, or the majority of them, 
refuse to participate in them. The refusal of one 
man, whether he be Tsar or soldier, would only 
unnecessarily ruin his life, without the least ad- 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 247 

vantage to anyone. If the Russian Tsar were now 
to renounce the war he would be dethroned, per- 
haps killed to get rid of him. If an ordinary man 
were to refuse military service he would be sent 
to a penal battalion, or perhaps shot. Why then 
uselessly throw away one's life, which might be of 
use to society?* is usually said by those who do not 
think of the vocation of their whole life and there- 
fore do not understand it. 

But this is not what is said and felt by a man who 
understands the purpose of his life, that is, by a 
religious man. Such a one is guided in his activity 
not by the conjectural consequences of his actions 
but by the consciousness of the purpose of his life. 
A factory workman goes to the factory and in it 
does the work allotted to him without considering 
what will be the consequence of his work. In the 
same way a soldier acts, carrying out the will of his 
commanders. So acts a religious man, doing the 
work prescribed to him by God without arguing as 
to just what will come of his work. And so for 
a religious man there is no question as to whether 
many or few men act as he does, or of what may 
happen to him if he does what he should do. He 
knows that besides life and death nothing can hap- 
pen, and that life and death are in the hands of 
God whom he obeys. 

A religious man acts so and no otherwise not 
because he wishes to act thus or because it is 
advantageous to him or to others, but because, 
believing that his life is in the hands of God, he 
cannot do otherwise. 

In this lies the speciality of the activity of religious 
men. 

And so the salvation of men from the ills they 
inflict upon themselves will be accomplished only 
to the extent to which they are guided in their lives 



248 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

not by advantages or arguments, but by religious 
consciousness. 



. . . Men of God are that hidden salt which conserves 
the world, for the things of the world are conserved only 
in so far as the Divine salt does not lose its power. 'But 
if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith can it be 
salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast 
out, and to be trodden under foot of men. . . . He that 
has ears to hear, let him hear.' As for us, we are per- 
secuted when God gives the tempter the power to perse- 
cute, but when He does not wish to subject us to sufferings 
we enjoy wonderful peace even in this world which hates 
us, and we rely on the protection of Him who said : 
'Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.' 

Celsus also says that: 'It is impossible that all the 
inhabitants of Asia, Europe, and Libia, Greeks as well 
as barbarians, should follow one and the same law. To 
think so,' he says, 'means to understand nothing.' But 
we say that not only is it possible, but that the day will 
come when all reasonable beings will unite under one 
law. For the Word or Reason will subdue all reasonable 
beings and transform them into its own perfection. 

There are bodily diseases and wounds which no 
doctoring can cure, but it is not so with the ailments of 
the soul. There is no evil the cure of which is impossible 
for supreme Reason, which is God. 

ORIGEN, Origen against Celsus. 

I feel the force stirring within me which in time will 
reform the world. 

It does not push or obtrude, but I am conscious of it 
drawing gently and irresistibly at my vitals. 

And I see that as I am attracted, so I begin un- 
accountably to attract others. 

I draw them and they in turn draw me, and we 
recognize a tendency to group ourselves anew. Get in 
touch with the great central magnet, and you will your- 
self become a magnet. And as more and more of us find 
our bearings and exert our powers, gradually the new 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 249 

world will take shape. We become indeed legislators 

of the divine law, receiving it from God Himself, and 

human laws shrink and dry up before us. 
And I asked the force within my soul : 'Who art thou ?' 
And it answered and said: *I am Love, the Lord of 

Heaven, and I would be called Love, the Lord of Earth. 

I am the mightiest of all the heavenly hosts, and I am 

come to create the state that is to be.' 

ERNEST CROSBY, Plain Talk in Psalm and Parable. 

One can say with certainty that the kingdom of God 
has come to us when the principle of the gradual trans- 
formation of the church faith into a universal rational 
religion is found openly established anywhere, though the 
complete realization of that kingdom may still be in- 
finitely far from us for this principle, like a developing 
and then multiplying germ, already contains all \\hich 
must enlighten and take possession of the world. 

In the life of the universe a thousand years are as one 
day. We must labour patiently for this realization, and 
wait for it. KANT. 

When I speak to thee about God, do not think that 
I am speaking to thce about some object made of gold 
or silver. The God of whom I speak to thee, thou feelest 
in thy soul. Thou bearest Him in thyself, and by thy 
impure thoughts and loathsome acts thou defilest His 
image in thy soul. In the presence of a golden idol which 
thou regardest as God, thou refrainest from doing aught 
that is unseemly, but in the presence of that God who in 
thee thyself sees and hears all, thou does not even blush 
when thou yieldest thyself to thy disgusting thoughts and 
actions. 

If only we remembered that God in us is the witness 
of all that we do and think, we should cease to sin, and 
God would constantly abide in us. Let us then remember 
God, and think and talk of Hin as often as possible. 

EPICTETUS. 

'But how about the enemies that are attacking 
us?' 



250 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

'Love your enemies and you will have none,' is 
said in the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. And this 
answer is not mere words as those may imagine 
who are accustomed to think that the injunction 
to love one's enemies is something parabolical and 
signifies not what it says but something else. It 
is the indication of a very clear and definite 
activity and of its consequences. 

To love , one's enemies the Japanese, the 
Chinese, those Yellow peoples towards whom 
erring men are now trying to excite our hatred 
to love them does not mean to kill them in order 
to have a right to poison them with opium, as 
was done by the English, 1 or to kill them in order 
to seize their land, as was done by the French, the 
Russians, and the Germans; or to bury them alive 
as punishment for injuring roads, or to tie them 
together by their hair and drown them in the 
Amur, as the Russians did. 

8 A disciple is not above his master. . . . It is 
enough for a disciple that he be as his master.' 

To love the Yellow people, whom we call our 
foes, does not mean to teach them, under the name 
of Christianity, absurd superstitions about the fall of 
man, redemption, resurrection, and so on; or to 
teach them the art of deceiving and killing people, 
but to teach them justice, unselfishness, compassion, 
love, and that not in words but by the example of 
our own good life. 

But what have we done and are doing to them? 

If we did indeed love our enemies, if even now 
we began to love our enemies the Japanese, we 
should have no enemy. 

1 'The public conscience was wounded by a war with 
China in 1839 on its refusal to allow the smuggling of opium 
into its dominions.' J. R. Green (Short History of the English 
).-&. M. 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 251 

So, strange as it may appear to people occupied 
with military plans, preparations, diplomatic con- 
siderations, administrative, financial, economic 
measures, revolutionary and socialistic sermons, 
and various unnecessary sciences by which they 
think to free mankind from its calamities the 
delivery of man not only from the calamities of 
war, but from all his self-inflicted ills will be 
effected, not through emperors or kings instituting 
peace unions, not by those who would dethrone 
emperors or kings, or limit them by constitutions, 
or replace monarchies by republics, not by peace 
conferences, not by the accomplishment of social- 
istic programmes or by victories or defeats on 
land or sea, or by libraries or universities, or by 
those futile mental exercises which are now called 
science, but only by there being more and more 
of those simple men like the Doukhobors, Drozhfn, 
and Olkhovfk in Russia, the Nazarines in Austria, 
Condatier in France, Tervey in Holland, and 
others who set themselves the aim not of external 
alterations of life but of their own most faithful 
fulfilment of the will of Him who sent them into 
life, and direct all their powers to that fulfilment. 
Only such people, realizing the kingdom of God 
in themselves, in their souls, will without aiming 
directly at that purpose, establish that external 
kingdom of God which every human soul desires. 
Salvation will come about only in this one way 
and not by any other. And what is now being 
done by those who, ruling others, instil into them 
religious and patriotic superstitions, exciting them 
to exclusiveness, hatred, and murder as well as 
by those who to free men from enslavement and 
oppression invoke them to violent external revolu- 
tion, or think that the acquisition by men of very 
much incidental, and for the most part unnecessary, 



252 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

knowledge, will of itself bring them to a good life 
all this, distracting men from what alone they need, 
merely removes them farther from the possibility 
of salvation. 

The evil from which people of the Christian 
world suffer is that they are temporarily deprived 
of religion. 

Some people, convinced of the discord between 
existing religion and the state of mental, scientific 
development attained by humanity in our time, 
have decided in general that no religion whatever 
is necessary. They live without religion and preach 
the uselessness of any religion whatever. Others, 
holding to the distorted form of the Christian 
religion in which it is now preached, also live 
without religion, professing empty external forms 
which cannot serve as guidance for men's lives. 

Yet a religion which answers to the demands of 
our time exists, is known to all men, and lives in 
a latent state in the hearts of men of the Christian 
world. And that this religion should become 
evident to and binding upon all men, it is only 
necessary that educated men the leaders of the 
masses should understand that religion is neces- 
sary to man, that without religion men cannot 
live good lives, and that what they call science 
cannot replace religion. And men in power who 
support the old empty forms of religion should 
understand that what they support and preach as 
religion, is not only not religion, but is the chief 
obstacle to people's assimilating the true religion, 
which they already know and which alone can 
save them from their miseries. 

So that the only true means of man's salvation 
consists in merely ceasing to do what hinders men 
from making the true religion which lives in their 
consciousness their own. 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 253 

XI 

A wonderful and horrible thing is come to pass in the 
land ; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear 
rule by their means; and my people love to have it so; 
and what will ye do in the end thereof? 

JEREMIAH V. 30, 31. 

He hath blinded their eyes, and he hardened their 
heart ; lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive 
with their heart, and should turn, and I should heal 
them. JOHN xii. 40. 

If a traveller were to see a people on some far-off 
island whose houses were protected by loaded cannon 
and around those houses sentinels patrolled night and 
day, he could not help thinking that the island was 
inhabited by brigands. Is it not thus with the European 
states? How little influence has religion on people, or 
how far we still are from true religion. LICHTENBERG. 

I was finishing this article when news came of 
the destruction of six hundred innocent lives near 
Port Arthur. It would seem that the useless 
suffering and death of these unfortunate, deluded 
men, who have uselessly suffered a dreadful death, 
ought to bring to their senses those who were the 
cause of this destruction. I am not alluding to 
Makarov and other officers all those men knew 
what they were doing and why, and voluntarily, 
for personal advantage or for ambition, did what 
they did, screening themselves under the lie of 
patriotism, which is obvious but is not exposed 
merely because it is universal. I mention those 
unfortunate men drawn from all parts of Russia 
who by the help of religious fraud and under fear 
of punishment were torn from their honest, 
reasonable, useful, and laborious family life and 



254 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

driven to the other end of the earth, placed on a 
cruel and senseless slaughtering machine, and torn 
to bits or drowned in a distant sea together with 
that stupid machine, without any need or any 
possibility of receiving any advantage from all their 
privations, efforts, and sufferings, and the death 
that overtook them. 

In 1830, during the Polish war, Adjutant 
Vilejinsky, sent to St. Petersburg by Klopitsky, in 
a conversation carried on in French with Dibitch, 
replied to the latter's demands that the Russian 
troops should enter Poland: 

'Monsieur le Marechal, I think that it is quite 
impossible for the Polish nation to accept the mani- 
festo with such a condition.' 

'Believe me, the Emperor will make no conces- 
sion.' 

'Then I foresee that unhappily there will be 
war, much blood will be shed and there will be 
many unfortunate victims.' 

'Don't believe it! At most ten thousand men 
will perish on the two sides, that is all,' 1 said 
Dibitch in his German accent, quite confident that 
he, together with another man as cruel and alien 
to Russian and Polish life as himself (Nicholas I) 
had a right to condemn or not to condemn to 
death ten or a hundred thousand Russians and 
Poles. 

One hardly believes that this could have been, 
so senseless and dreadful is it, and yet it was. 
Sixty thousand supporters of families perished by 
the will of those men. And the same thing is 
taking place now. 

1 Vilejinsky adds: 'The Field Marshal did not then think 
that more than sixty thousand of the Russians alone would 
perish in that war, not so much from the enemy's fire as from 
disease, and that he himself would be among the number.' 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 255 

To keep the Japanese out of Manchuria and to 
drive them out of Korea, not ten but fifty and more 
thousands will in all probability be required. I 
do not know whether Nicholas II and Kuropatkin 
say in so many words, as Dibitch did, that not 
more than fifty thousand lives will be needed for this 
on the Russian side alone, and only that, but they 
think it and cannot but think it, because what they 
are doing speaks for itself. That unceasing flow of 
unfortunate, deluded Russian peasants now being 
transported by thousands to the Far East, are those 
same not more than fifty thousand living Russians 
whom Nicholas Romanov and Alexey Kuropatkin 
have decided to sacrifice, and who will be killed 
in support of those stupidities, robberies, and 
nastinesses of all kinds which were being committed 
in China and Korea by immoral, ambitious men, 
now quietly sitting in their palaces and awaiting 
fresh glory and fresh advantage and profit from 
the slaughter of those fifty thousand unfortunate 
defrauded Russian working men who are guilty of 
nothing and gain nothing by their sufferings and 
death. For other people's land, to which the 
Russians have no right, which has been stolen from 
its legitimate owners and which in reality the 
Russians do not need as well as for certain shady 
dealings undertaken by speculators who wished to 
make money in Korea out of other people's forests 
enormous sums are spent, that is, a great part 
of the labour of the whole Russian people, while 
future generations of that people are being bound 
by debts, its best workmen withdrawn from labour, 
and scores of thousands of its sons mercilessly 
doomed to death. And the destruction of these 
unfortunate men has already begun. More than 
this: those who have hatched the war manage it 
so badly, so carelessly, all is so unexpected, so 



256 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

unprepared, that, as one paper remarks, Russia's 
chief chance of success lies in the fact that it has 
inexhaustible human material. It is on this that 
those rely who send scores of thousands of Russian 
men to their death ! 

It is plainly said that the regrettable reverses of 
our fleet must be compensated for on land. In 
plain language this means, that if the authorities 
have managed things badly on sea and by their 
carelessness have wasted not only the nation's 
milliards but thousands of lives, we must make up 
for this by condemning to death several more scores 
of thousands on land ! 

Crawling locusts cross rivers in this way: the 
lower layers are drowned till the bodies of the 
drowned form a bridge over which those above can 
pass. So now are the Russian people disposed of. 

Thus the first lower layer is already beginning 
to drown, showing the way for other thousands who 
will likewise perish. 

And do the originators, the instigators and 
directors of this dreadful business begin to under- 
stand their sin, their crime? Not in the least. 
They are fully persuaded that they have fulfilled 
and are fulfilling their duty, and they are proud of 
their activity. 

They talk of the loss of the brave Makarov, who 
as all agree was able to kill men very cleverly, and 
they deplore the loss of an excellent machine of 
slaughter that cost so many millions of rubles and 
has now been sunk, and they discuss how to find 
another murderer as capable as poor misguided 
Makarov, and they invent new and even more 
efficacious tools of slaughter, and all the guilty 
people engaged in this dreadful work, from the 
Tsar to the humblest journalist, call with one voice 
for new insanities and cruelties, and for an in- 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 257 

tensification of brutality and hatred of one's 
fellow men. 

'Makarov was not alone in Russia and every 
admiral placed in his position will follow in his 
steps and will continue the plan and the idea of 
him who has perished nobly in the strife/ writes 
the Novoe Vremya. 

'Let us earnestly pray God for those who have 
laid down their lives for the sacred Fatherland, not 
doubting for one moment that the Fatherland will 
give us fresh sons equally valorous for the further 
struggle, and will find in them an inexhaustible 
supply of strength for a worthy completion of the 
work/ writes the Petersburg Vedomosti. 

'A virile nation will form no other conclusion 
from the defeat, however unprecedented, than that 
we must continue, develop, and conclude the 
strife. We shall find in ourselves fresh strength, 
new heroes of the spirit will appear/ writes the 
Russ. And so on. 

So murder and every kind of crime continue 
with yet greater fury. People are enthusiastic 
about the martial spirit of the volunteers who 
having unexpectedly come upon fifty of their 
fellow men, cut them all to pieces, or occupied 
a village and massacred its whole population, or 
hung or shot those accused of spying that is, of 
doing the very thing which is regarded as indis- 
pensable and is constantly being done on our side. 
News of these crimes is reported in pompous 
telegrams to their chief director, the Tsar, who 
sends his valorous troops his blessing for the con- 
tinuation of such deeds. 

Is it not clear that if there is a salvation from this 
state of things, it is only one that one which 
Jesus teaches? 

459 * 



258 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his right- 
eousness' (that which is within you), and all the 
rest that is, all the practical welfare for which 
man is striving will be realized of itself. 

Such is the law of life: practical welfare is 
attained not when man strives for it on the con- 
trary, such striving for the most part removes man 
from the attainment of what he seeks but only 
when, without thinking of the attainment of prac- 
tical welfare, he strives towards the most perfect 
fulfilment of that which he regards as right before 
God, before the Source and Law of his life. Only 
then, incidentally, is practical welfare also at- 
tained. 

So that there is only one true salvation for men : 
the fulfilment of the will of God by each individual 
within himself, that is, in that portion of the uni- 
verse which alone is subject to his power. In this 
is the chief, the sole, vocation of every individual, 
and at the same time the only means by which 
every individual can influence others, and so to 
this, and only to this, all the efforts of every man 
should be directed. 

[April ijth, o.s. 9 1904.1 

XII 

I had only just sent off the last pages of this 
article on war, when the terrible news arrived of 
a fresh iniquity committed against the Russian 
people by those men who, crazed by power and 
lacking any sense of responsibility, have assumed 
the right to dispose of them. Again those coarse 
and servile slaves of slaves the various generals 
decked out in a variety of motley garments, have 
(either to distinguish themselves, or to spite one 
another, or to earn the right to add another little 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 259 

star, decoration, or ribbon, to their ridiculous and 
ostentatious dress, or from sheer stupidity and 
carelessness) destroyed thousands of those honour- 
able, kindly, laborious working men who provide 
them with food and destroyed them with terrible 
sufferings. And once again this iniquity not only 
fails to make its perpetrators reflect or repent, but 
they only tell us how still more men and still 
more families (both Russian and Japanese) may 
be killed and mutilated, or ruined, with the greatest 
speed. 

More than this, those guilty of these evil deeds 
wishing to prepare people for still more of them 
not only do not confess (what is evident to every- 
body) that even from their patriotic, military point 
of view, the Russians have suffered a shameful 
defeat, but they even try to instil into frivolous 
minds a belief that those unfortunate Russian 
peasants who were led into a trap like cattle into 
a slaughter-house, and of whom several thousands 
were killed and maimed simply because one general 
did not understand what another general had said 
have performed an heroic feat, since those who 
could not run away were killed and those who did 
run away remained alive. 

The drowning of many peaceful Japanese by 
one of those terrible, immoral, and cruel men 
extolled as generals and admirals, is also described 
as a great and valorous achievement which must 
gladden the hearts of the Russian people. And in 
all the papers appears this horrible incitement to 
murder : 

'Let the two thousand Russians killed on the 
Yalu, together with the maimed Retvizdn and her 
sister ships, and our lost torpedo-boats, teach our 
cruisers what devastating destruction they must 
wreak upon the shores of base Japan. She has 



260 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

sent her soldiers to shed Russian blood and no 
mercy must be shown her. It is impossible to 
sentimentalize now, it would be sinful. We must 
fight! We must deal such heavy blows that their 
memory will freeze the treacherous hearts of the 
Japanese. Now is the time for our cruisers to put 
to sea and reduce their towns to ashes, and to 
rush like a terrible calamity along their beautiful 
shores. 

'There has been enough of sentimentality !' 
So the frightful work goes on: loot, violence, 
murder, hypocrisy, theft, and, above all, the most 
fearful deceit, and the perversion of both the 
Christian and the Buddhist teaching. 

The Tsar, the man chiefly responsible, continues 
to hold reviews of his troops, thanks them, rewards 
and encourages them, and issues an edict calling 
up the reserves. Again and again his loyal subjects 
humbly lay their possessions and their lives at the 
feet of their adored monarch, but these are only 
words. In reality, desiring to distinguish them- 
selves before each other in actual deeds, they tear 
fathers and bread-winners away from orphaned 
families and prepare them for slaughter. And the 
worse the position of the Russians becomes, the 
more unconscionably do the journalists lie, convert- 
ing shameful defeats into victories, conscious that 
no one will contradict them, and quietly gathering 
in money from subscriptions and the sales of their 
papers. The more money and labour is spent on 
the war the more do all the chiefs and contractors 
steal, knowing that no one will expose them since 
everyone is doing the same. The military, trained 
for murder, and having spent decades in a school 
of brutality, coarseness, and idleness, rejoice (poor 
fellows) because, besides getting an increase of pay, 
the casualties among their superiors create vacancies 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 261 

for them. Christian ministers continue to incite 
men to the greatest of crimes, hypocritically calling 
upon God to help in the work of war ; and instead 
of condemning the pastor who, cross in hand and 
at the very scene of the crime, encourages men to 
murder, they justify and acclaim him. The same 
thing goes on in Japan. The benighted Japanese 
fling themselves into murder with even greater 
ardour because of their victories, imitating all that 
is worst in Europe. The Mikado also holds reviews 
and bestows rewards. Different generals boast 
themselves, imagining that they have acquired 
Western culture by having learnt to kill. Their 
poor unfortunate labouring people, torn from their 
useful work and from their families, groan as ours 
do. Their journalists tell lies and rejoice at an 
increased circulation. And probably (for where 
murder is acclaimed as heroism, every vice is 
bound to flourish) all the commanders and con- 
tractors make money. Nor do the Japanese 
theologians and religious teachers lag behind our 
European ones. As their military men are up to 
date in the technique of armaments, so are their 
theologians up to date in the technique of decep- 
tion and hypocrisy not merely tolerating but 
justifying murder, which Buddha forbade. 

The learned Buddhist Soyen-Shaku, who rules 
over eight hundred monasteries, explains that 
though Buddha forbade manslaughter, he also 
said that he could not be at peace till all beings 
are united in the infinitely loving heart of all 
things; and that to bring the discordant into 
harmony it is necessary to fight and kill people. 1 

1 In his article it is said: 'The triune world is my own 
possession. All things therein are my children. . . . All are 
but reflections of myself. They are all from the one source. . . . 
All partake of the one body. Therefore I cannot be at rest 



262 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

And it is as though the Christian and the 
Buddhist teaching of the oneness of the human 
spirit, the brotherhood of man, love, compassion, 
and the inviolability of human life, had never 
existed. Men already enlightened by the truth, 
both Japanese and Russian, fly at one another like 
wild beasts and worse than wild beasts, with the 
sole desire to destroy as many lives as possible. 
Thousands of unfortunates already groan and 
writhe in cruel suffering and die in agony in 
Japanese and Russian field-hospitals, asking them- 
selves in perplexity why this fearful thing was done 
to them; and other thousands are rotting in the 
earth or on the earth, or floating in the sea, 
bloated and decomposing. And tens of thousands 
of fathers, mothers, wives, and children weep for 
the bread-winners who have perished so uselessly. 

But all this is not enough, and more and more 

until every being, even the smallest possible fragment of 
existence, is settled down to its proper appointment. . . . 

'This is the position taken by the Buddha, and we, his 
humble followers, are but to walk in his wake. 

4 Why then do we fight at all. 

'Because the world is not as it ought to be. Because there 
are here so many perverted creatures, so many wayward 
thoughts, so many ill-directed hearts, due to ignorant sub- 
jectivity. For this reason Buddhists are never tired of com- 
batting all the products of ignorance, and their fight must be 
continued to the bitter end. They will give no quarter. They will 
mercilessly destroy the very root from which arises the misery 
of this life. To accomplish this they will never be afraid of 
sacrificing their lives. . . .' 

The quotation continues (as among us) with confused 
reflections about self-sacrifice and about absence of malice, 
about the transmigration of souls, and much else all merely 
to conceal Buddha's clear and simple command not to kill. 

It is further said : "The hand that is raised to strike, and the 
eye which is fixed to take aim, do not belong to the individual 
but are the instruments utilized by the Source which stands 
above our transient existence.* (From The Open Court, May 
1904. Buddhist Views of War, by the Right Rev. Soyen-Shaku.) 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 263 

fresh victims are continually being prepared. The 
chief concern of the Russian organizers of the 
slaughter is that the supply of cannon-fodder 
(three thousand men a day doomed to destruction) 
should not cease for a single day. The Japanese are 
similarly preoccupied. The locusts are being driven 
into the river incessantly, so that the later comers 
may pass over the bodies of the drowned. . . . 

When will it end? When will the deceived people 
come to themselves and say: 'Well, go yourselves, 
you heartless and Godless tsars, mikados, ministers, 
metropolitans, abbots, generals, editors, and con- 
tractors, or whatever you are entitled. Go your- 
selves and face the shells and bullets! We don't 
want to go, and won't go. Leave us in peace to 
plough, sow, build, and feed you our parasites!' 
To say that would be so natural now in Russia, 
amid the weeping and wailing of hundreds of 
thousands of mothers, wives, and children from 
whom their bread-winners the so-called Reservists 
are being taken. Those same Reservists are for 
the most part able to read. They know what the 
Far East is. And they know that the war is carried 
on not for anything at all necessary for the Russian 
people, but on account of dealings in some alien 
'leased land* (as they call it) where it seemed 
advantageous to some contractors to build a rail- 
way and engage on other affairs for profit. They 
also know, or can know, that they will be killed 
like sheep in a slaughter-house, for the Japanese 
have the newest and most perfect instruments of 
murder and we have not for the Russian authori- 
ties who are sending our people to death did not 
think in time of procuring such weapons as the 
Japanese have. Knowing all this, it would be so 
natural to say: 'Go yourselves, you who started 
this affair all of you to whom the war seems 



264 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

necessary and who justify it! You go and expose 
yourselves to the Japanese bullets and torpedoes. 
We will no longer go, because it is not only un- 
necessary for us, but we cannot understand why 
it should be necessary for anyone.' 

But they do not say this. They go, and will go, 
and cannot but go, as long as they fear that which 
destroys the body, and not that which destroys 
both body and soul. 

'Whether they will kill or mutilate us in some 
Chinnampos or whatever they are called, where 
we are being driven, is uncertain,' they argue. 
'Perhaps we may get away alive, and even with 
rewards and glory, like those sailors who are being 
so feted all over Russia just now because the 
Japanese bombs and bullets hit someone else 
instead of them. But if we refuse w r e shall certainly 
be put in prison, starved and beaten, exiled to the 
province of Yakutsk, or perhaps even killed im- 
mediately.' And so with despair in their hearts 
they go, leaving their wives and children and their 
rational lives. 

Yesterday I met a reservist accompanied by his 
mother and his wife. They were all three riding 
in a cart. He was rather tipsy, and his wife's 
face was swollen with weeping. He addressed me : 

'Good-bye, Lev Nikolaevich! I'm off to the Far 
East.' 

'What! Are you going to fight?' 

'Well, someone has to fight I' 

'No one should fight!' 

He considered. 'But what can I do? Where can 
I escape to? 9 

I saw that he understood me and had under- 
stood that the affair on which he was being sent 
was a bad one. 

' Where can I escape to ?' It is the precise expression 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 265 

of the mental condition which in the official and 
journalistic world is rendered by the words: Tor 
the Faith, the Tsar, and the Fatherland!' Those 
who go to suffering and death, abandoning their 
hungry families, say what they feel : 'Where can I 
escape to?' While those who sit in safety in their 
luxurious palaces say that all Russians are ready 
to lay down their lives for their adored monarch, 
and for the glory and greatness of Russia. 

Yesterday I received two letters, one after the 
other, from a peasant I know. 

This was the first: 
'Dear Lev Nikolaevich 

'Well, to-day I have received the official announce- 
ment summoning me to serve, and to-morrow I 
must present myself at the place appointed. That 
is all, and then to the Far East to meet Japanese 
bullets. 

'I will not tell you of my own and my family's 
grief, for you will not fail to understand all the 
horror of my position and of war. You have pain- 
fully realized that long ago and understand it all. 
I have all the time wished to come to see you and 
talk with you. I wrote you a long letter in which I 
described the torments of my soul, but I had not 
had time to make a clean copy of it when I received 
this summons. What is my wife to do now, with 
our four children? Of course you, being an old 
man, cannot do anything for my family yourself, 
but you might ask some one of your friends to 
visit them, just for the sake of a walk. If my wife 
finds herself unable to bear the agony of her help- 
lessness with all the children, and makes up her 
mind to go to you for help and advice, I beg you 
earnestly to receive her and console her. Though 
she does not know you personally she believes in 
you, and that means a great deal. 



266 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

'I cannot resist the summons, but I say before- 
hand that not one Japanese family shall be 
orphaned by me. O God, how dreadful all this 
is! How grievous and painful it is to abandon all 
that one lives by and with which one is concerned.* 

The second letter was this: 
'Kind Lev Nikolaevich, 

'Only one day of actual service has passed, but 
I have already lived through an eternity of most 
desperate torments. From eight o'clock in the 
morning till nine in the evening we were crowded 
and pushed about in the barrack yard like a herd 
of cattle. The comedy of a medical examination 
was repeated three times, and all who reported 
themselves ill did not receive even ten minutes' 
attention before they were marked Tit'. When 
we, two thousand fit men, were driven from the 
military commander's at the barracks, a crowd of 
relations, mothers, and wives with children in 
their arms, stretched out for nearly a verst along 
the road, and you should have seen how they clung 
to their sons and husbands and fathers, and heard 
how desperately they wailed as they did so! 
Usually I behave with restraint and can control 
my feelings, but I could not hold out this time, 
and I too wept!' (In journalistic language this 
is expressed by: 'The patriotic emotion displayed 
was immense.') 'How can one measure the whole- 
sale woe that is now spreading over almost a third 
of the world? And we, we are now food for cannon, 
which in the near future will be offered up in 
sacrifice to a God of revenge and horror. . . . 

'I am quite unable to maintain my inner balance. 
Oh, how I hate myself for this double-mindedness 
which prevents my serving one Lord and God. . . .' 

That man does not yet believe sufficiently that 
what destroys the body is not terrible, but that is 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 267 

terrible which destroys both body and soul. And 
so he cannot refuse the service. But yet while 
leaving his family he promises in advance that not 
one Japanese family shall be orphaned through him. 
He believes in the chief law of God, the law of all 
religions to do to others as you wish them to do to 
you. And in our time there are not thousands 
but millions of men who more or less consciously 
recognize that law, not Christians only but Buddhists, 
Mohammedans, Confucians, and Brahmins as well. 

True heroes really exist not those who are now 
feted because, having wished to kill others, they 
themselves escaped but true heroes who are now 
confined in prisons and in the province of Yakutsk 
for having categorically refused to enter the ranks 
of the murderers, and have preferred martyrdom 
to that renunciation of the law of Christ. There are 
also men like the one who wrote to me, and who 
will go but will not kill. And even the majority 
who go without thinking, or trying not to think, of 
what they are doing, feel in the depths of their souls 
that they are doing wrong to obey the authorities 
who tear men from their work and their families 
and send them needlessly to slaughter, a thing 
repugnant to their souls and to their faith. They 
only go because they are so entangled on all sides 
that * Where can I escape to?' 

And those who remain at home not only feel 
but know this, and express it. Yesterday on the 
high road I met some peasants returning from Tula. 
One of them walking beside his empty cart, was 
reading a leaflet. 

'What is that?' I asked. 'A telegram?' 

He stopped. 'This is yesterday's, but I have 
to-day's as well.' 

He took another out of his pocket. We stopped 
and I read it. 



268 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

'You should have seen what it was like at the 
station yesterday,' he said. 'It was terrible. Wives 
and children more than a thousand of them all 
crying and sobbing. They surrounded the train 
but could not board it. Even strangers looking on 
were in tears. One Tiila woman cried out and 
died on the spot. She had five children. The 
children were shoved into different asylums, but 
the father was sent on all the same. . . . And what 
do we want with this Manchuria or whatever it 
is called? We have much land of our own. And 
what a lot of people have been killed and what 
a lot of money wasted. . . .* 

Yes, the people's attitude to war is quite different 
now from what it used to be, even in '77.' People 
never reacted then as they do now. 

The papers write that at receptions of the Tsar 
(who is travelling about Russia to hypnotize the 
people who are being sent off to slaughter) indes- 
cribable enthusiasm is shown among the populace. 
In reality something quite different is happen- 
ing. One hears on all sides reports of how in 
one place three Reservists hung themselves, in 
another two more, and how a woman whose hus- 
band had been taken brought her three children 
to the recruiting office and left them there, while 
another woman hanged herself in the yard of the 
military commander's home. Everybody is dis- 
satisfied, gloomy, and embittered. People no 
longer react to the words: Tor the Faith, the Tsar, 
and the Fatherland!', the national anthem, and 
shouts of 'Hurrah!' as they used to do. A war of 
a different kind, a struggling consciousness of the 
wrongfulness and sin of the thing to which men 
are being called, is taking place. 

Yes, the great strife of our time is not that now 
1 The Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8. A. M. 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 269 

taking place between the Japanese and the 
Russians, nor that which may blaze up between 
the White and the Yellow races. It is not the strife 
carried on by torpedoes, bullets, and bombs, but 
that spiritual strife which has unceasingly gone 
on, and is now going on, between the enlightened 
consciousness of mankind now awaiting its mani- 
festation and the darkness and oppression which 
surrounds and burdens mankind. 

In his own time Christ yearned in expectation, 
and said : 'I came to cast fire upon the earth, and 
how I wish that it were already kindled.' (Luke 
xii. 49.) 

What Christ longed for is being accomplished. 
The fire is kindling. Let us not check it, but 
promote it. 



April gothy 1904. 

I should never finish this article if I continued 
to add to it all that confirms its chief thought. 
Yesterday news was received of the sinking of 
Japanese battleships; and in what are called the 
higher circles of Russian fashionable society, 
wealthy and intelligent people are rejoicing, with 
no prickings of conscience, at the destruction of 
thousands of human lives. And to-day I have 
received from a simple seaman, a man of the 
lowest rank of society, the following letter: 1 
'Letter from seaman (here follows his Christian 
name, patronymic, and family name). 
'Much respected Lev Nikolaevich, 

'I greet you with a low bow and with love, much 
respected Lev Nikolaevich. I have read your 
book. It was very pleasant reading for me. I am 

1 This letter in the Russian is ungrammatical, ill-spelt, ill- 
punctuated, and with capital letters constantly misused. 
A.M. 



270 BETHINK YOURSELVES! 

very fond of reading what you write, and as we 
are now in military action, Lev Nikolaevich, will 
you please tell me whether or not it is pleasing to 
God that our commanders compel us to kill. I 
beg you to write me, Lev Nikolaevich, please, 
whether or not truth exists now on earth. At the 
church service the priest speaks of the Christ- 
loving army. Is it true or not that God loves war? 
Please, Lev Nikolaevich, have you any books 
showing whether truth exists on earth or not? Send 
me such books and I will pay what they cost. 
I beg you not to neglect my request, Lev Nikolae- 
vich. If there are no such books, then write to me. 
I shall be very glad to receive a letter from you and 
shall await it \\ith impatience. 

'Now farewell. I remain alive and well and wish 
you the same from the Lord God. Good health 
and good success in your work.' 

[Then follows the address, Port Arthur, the name 
of his ship, his rank, and his Christian name, 
patronymic, and family name.] 

I cannot reply directly to that good, serious, and 
truly enlightened man. He is in Port Arthur, with 
which there is no longer any communication either 
by post or by telegraph. But we still have a means 
of mutual intercourse God, in whom we both 
believe and concerning whom we both know that 
military 'action' displeases him. The doubt which 
has arisen in the man's soul is at the same time its 
own solution. 

And that doubt has now arisen and lives in the 
souls of thousands and thousands of men, not 
Russians and Japanese only, but all those unfor- 
tunate people who are forcibly compelled to do 
things most repugnant to human nature. 

The hypnotism by which the rulers have stupe- 
fied and still try to stupefy people soon passes off 



BETHINK YOURSELVES! 271 

and its effect grows ever weaker and weaker; 
whereas the doubt ''whether or not it is pleasing to 
God that our commanders compel us to kill' grows 
stronger and stronger. It can in no way be extin- 
guished and is spreading more and more widely. 

The doubt 'whether or not it is pleasing to God 
that our commanders compel us to kill' is that 
spark which Christ brought down upon earth, and 
which begins to kindle. 

And to know and feel this is a great joy. 

[Tdsnaya Poly ana. May 8th, 1904.] 



A GREAT INIQUITY 

TJUSSIA is passing through an important period 
JKxlestined to have tremendous results. 

The nearness and inevitability of the approach- 
ing revolution is as usual felt most keenly by those 
classes of society which by their position are exempt 
from the necessity of devoting their whole time 
and strength to physical labour and who can 
therefore pay attention to politics. These people 
the gentry, merchants, officials, medical men, 
technicians, professors, teachers, artists, students, 
and lawyers (belonging for the most part to the so- 
called intelligentsia of the towns) are now direct- 
ing the movement that is taking place in Russia, 
and are devoting their efforts to replacing the 
existing political order by another which this or 
that party considers best adapted to securing the 
liberty and welfare of the Russian folk. 

These people continually suffering all sorts of 
restrictions and coercions at the hands of the 
government; arbitrary exile, imprisonment, pro- 
hibitions of meetings, suppression of books and 
newspapers, and the prohibition of strikes and 
trades unions, as well as restriction of the rights of 
subject nationalities, and who at the same time 
are living a life quite estranged from the majority 
of the agricultural Russian people naturally re- 
gard the restrictions imposed on them as the chief 
evil the nation is suffering from, and liberation 
from them as the thing most to be desired. 

So think the Liberals and the Social Democrats, 
who hope that popular representation will enable 
them to utilize the power of the State to establish 
a new social order in accord with their theory. 
So also think the Revolutionaries, who after re- 



A GREAT INIQUITY 273 

placing the present government by a new one, 
intend to establish laws securing the greatest 
freedom and welfare for the whole people. 

Yet one need only free oneself for a while from 
the idea which has taken root among our intelli- 
gentsia (that the work now before Russia is the 
introduction of the forms of political life estab- 
lished in Europe and America, and supposed to 
ensure the liberty and welfare of all their citizens) 
and simply consider what is morally wrong in our 
life, to see clearly that the chief evil from which 
the Russian people are cruelly and unceasingly 
suffering (an evil of which they are keenly con- 
scious and of which they continually complain) 
cannot be removed by any political reforms, just 
as it has not till now been removed by political 
reforms in Europe or America. That evil the 
fundamental evil from which the Russian people 
suffer in common with the peoples of Europe and 
America is that the majority of the people are 
deprived of the indubitable and natural right of 
every man to have the use of a portion of the land 
on which he was born. It is only necessary to 
understand the criminality and wickedness of this 
deprivation to realize that until this atrocity, con- 
tinually committed by landowners, has ceased, no 
political reforms will give freedom and welfare to the 
people ; but that on the contrary only the emancipa- 
tion of the mass of the people from the land-slavery 
in which they are now held can render political re- 
form a real expression of the people's will, and not 
a plaything and tool in the hands of politicians. 

That is the thought I wish to communicate in 
this article to those who, at the present important 
moment for Russia, sincerely wish to serve not 
their personal aims but the true welfare of the 
Russian people. 



274 A GREAT INIQUITY 

I 

The other day I was walking on the high road 
to Tula. It was the Saturday before Palm Sunday. 
Peasants were driving to market in their carts with 
calves, hens, horses, and cows (some of the cows 
in such poor condition that they were being taken 
in the carts). A wrinkled old woman was leading 
a lean and wretched cow. I knew her, and asked 
why she was taking the animal to market. 

'She has no milk, 5 said the old woman. 'I must 
sell her and buy one that has. I daresay I shall 
have to pay another ten rubles in addition, but 
I've only got five. Where could I get it? In winter 
we had to spend eighteen rubles on flour, and 
we have only one breadwinner. I live with my 
daughter-in-law and four grandchildren. My son 
is a house-porter in town.' 

'Why doesn't your son live at home?' 

'There's nothing for him to do. What land 
have we? Barely enough for kvas.' 1 

A lean and sallow peasant tramped by, his 
trousers spattered with mine-clay. 

'What's taking you to town?' I asked him. 

'I want to buy a horse. It's time to begin 
ploughing and I haven't got one. But they say 
horses are dear!' 

'How much do you want to give?' 

'As much as I have.' 

'And how much is that?' 

'I've scraped together fifteen rubles.' 

'What can you buy nowadays for fifteen rubles? 
Barely a hide !' put in another peasant. 'Whose mine 
are you at?' he added, looking at the man's trousers 
stretched at the knees and smeared with red clay. 

1 A non- intoxicating drink usually made from rye-malt 
and rye-flour. A. M. 



A GREAT INIQUITY 275 

'Komarov's Ivan Komarov's.' 

'How is it you've earned so little?' 

'I worked on half-shares. He took half.' 

'How much did you earn?' I asked. 

'I got two rubles a week, or even less. But what 's 
to be done? We hadn't enough grain to last till 
Christmas. There isn't enough to buy necessaries.' 

A little farther on a young peasant was taking 
a sleek, well-fed horse to sell. 

'A good horse!' said I. 

'You might look for a better but you wouldn't 
find one,' said he, taking me for a buyer. 'Good 
for ploughing or driving.' 

'Then why arc you selling it?' 

'I can't use it. I have only two allotments of 
land and can work them with one horse. I kept 
two through the winter, but I'm sorry I did. The 
cattle have eaten up everything, and we need 
money for the rent.' 

'Who is your landlord?' 

'Marya Ivanovna thanks to her for letting us 
have some land, else we might just as well have 
hung ourselves.' 

'How much do you pay her?' 

'She fleeces us of fourteen rubles. But where else 
can we go? We have to hire it.' 

A woman drove up with a little boy wearing 
a small cap. She knew me and got down and 
offered me her boy for service. The boy was just 
a mite, with quick intelligent eyes. 'He looks 
small, but he can do anything,' she said. 

'But why do you want to hire out such a little 
fellow?' 

'Why sir, at least it'll be one less to feed. I have 
four besides myself, and only one allotment of land. 
God knows we've nothing to eat. They ask for 
bread and I have nothing to give them.' 



276 A GREAT INIQUITY 

Everyone with whom one talks complains of 
want, and all alike, from one side or other, come 
back to the cause of it. They have not enough 
bread, and that is so because of their lack of land. 

These were casual encounters on the road; but 
go through the peasant world all over Russia and 
see the horrors of want and suffering obviously 
caused by the fact that they are deprived of land. 
Half the Russian peasantry live in such a manner 
that the question for them is not how to improve 
their lot, but simply how to keep themselves and 
their families alive and all because they are short 
of land. 

Go all through Russia and ask the working 
people why their life is hard, and what they want, 
and all of them with one voice will name one and 
the same thing; which they all unceasingly desire 
and expect, and unceasingly hope for and think 
about. 

And they cannot help thinking and feeling thus, 
for apart from the chief thing their insufficiency 
of land whereon to maintain themselves most of 
them cannot but feel themselves to be in slavery 
to the landed gentry, landowners, and merchants, 
whose estates surround their small and insufficient 
allotments. They cannot but think and feel this, 
for they are constantly suffering fines, blows, and 
humiliations, because they have taken a sack of 
grass or an armful of wood (without which they 
cannot live) or because a horse has strayed from 
their land on to the landowner's. 

Once on the high road I began talking with 
a blind peasant beggar. Recognizing me by my 
conversation to be a literate man who read the 
papers, but not taking me for one of the gentry, he 
suddenly stopped and gravely asked : 'Well, is there 
any rumour?' 



A GREAT INIQUITY 277 

'What about? 1 I asked. 

'Why, about the gentry's land.* 

When I said that I had heard nothing, the blind 
man shook his head and did not ask me anything 
more. 

I recently said to one of my former pupils, a 
prosperous, steady, intelligent, and literate peasant : 
'Well, are they talking about the land?' 

'It's true the people are talking about it,' he 
replied. 

'And what do you think about it yourself?' 

'Well, it will probably come over to us,' said he. 

Of all that is happening, this question alone is 
interesting and important to the whole people. 
And they believe, and cannot help believing, that 
it will 'come over'. 

They cannot help believing this, because it is 
plain to them that an increasing population living 
by agriculture cannot continue to exist when they 
are allowed only a small portion of the land to 
feed themselves and all the parasites who have 
fastened on them and are crawling about them. 

II 

'What is man?' says Henry George in one of his 
speeches. 

'In the first place he is an animal, a land animal 
who cannot live without land. All that man pro- 
duces comes from land; all productive labour, in 
the final analysis, consists in working up land or 
materials drawn from land, into such forms as fit 
them for the satisfaction of human wants and 
desires. Why, man's very body is drawn from the 
land. Children of the soil, we come from the land, 
and to the land we must return. Take away from 
man all that belongs to the land, and what have 
you but a disembodied spirit? Therefore he who 



278 A GREAT INIQUITY 

holds the land on which and from which another 
man must live, is that man's master; and the man 
is his slave. The man who holds the land on which 
I must live can command me to life or to death 
just as absolutely as though I were his chattel. 
Talk about abolishing slavery we have not 
abolished slavery we have only abolished one 
rude form of it, chattel slavery. There is a deeper 
and a more insidious form, a more cursed form yet 
before us to abolish, in this industrial slavery that 
makes a virtual slave, while taunting him and 
mocking him with the name of freedom.' 1 

'Did you ever think,' says Henry George in 
another part of the same speech, 'of the utter 
absurdity and strangeness of the fact that, all over 
the civilized world, the working classes are the 
poor classes? . . . Think for a moment how it would 
strike a rational being who had never been on the 
earth before, if such an intelligence could come 
down, and you were to explain to him how we live 
on earth, how houses, and food and clothing, and 
all the many things we need, are all produced by 
work, would he not think that the working people 
would be the people who lived in the finest houses 
and had most of everything that work produces? 
Yet, whether you took him to London or Paris or 
New York, or even to Burlington, he would find 
that those called working people were the people 
who lived in the poorest houses.' 2 

The same thing, I would add, occurs to a still 
greater extent in the country. Idle people live in 
luxurious palaces, in large and handsome dwellings, 
while the workers live in dark and dirty hovels. 

'All this is strange just think of it. We naturally 

1 The Crime of Poverty (Henry George Foundation of Great 
Britain), p. 10. 
* Ibid., p. is. 



A GREAT INIQUITY 279 

despise poverty; and it is reasonable that we 
should. . . . Nature gives to labour, and to labour 
alone; there must be human work before any 
article of wealth can be produced ; and, in a natural 
state of things, the man who toiled honestly and 
well would be the rich man, and he who did not 
work would be poor. We have so reversed the 
order of nature that we are accustomed to think of 
a working-man as a poor man. . . . The primary 
cause of this is that we compel those who work to 
pay others for permission to do so. You buy a coat, 
a horse, a house; there you are paying the seller 
for labour exerted, for something that he has pro- 
duced, or that he has got from the man who did 
produce it; but when you pay a man for land, what 
are you paying him for? You are paying for some- 
thing that no man has produced; you pay him 
for something that was here before man was, or 
for a value that was created, not by him indi- 
vidually, but by the community of which you are 
a part.' 1 

That is why he who has seized land and possesses 
it is rich, whereas he who works on it or on its 
products is poor. 

'We talk about over-production. How can there 
be such a thing as over-production while people 
want? All these things that are said to be over- 
produced are desired by many people. Why do 
they not get them? They do not get them because 
they have not the means to buy them; not that 
they do not want them. Why have they not the 
means to buy them? They earn too little. When 
great masses of men have to work for an average 
of $ i .40 a day, it is no wonder that great quantities 
of goods cannot be sold. 

'Now why is it that men have to work for such 
1 Ibid., p. 13. 



2 8o A GREAT INIQUITY 

low wages? Because, if they were to demand 
higher wages, there are plenty of unemployed men 
ready to step into their places. It is this mass of 
unemployed men who compel that fierce competi- 
tion that drives wages down to the point of bare 
subsistence. Why is it that there are men who 
cannot get employment? Did you ever think what 
a strange thing it is that men cannot find employ- 
ment? Adam had no difficulty in finding employ- 
ment; neither had Robinson Crusoe; the finding 
of employment was the last thing that troubled 
them. 

'If men cannot find an employer, why can they 
not employ themselves? Simply because they are 
shut out from the element on which human labour 
can alone be exerted. Men are compelled to com- 
pete with each other for the wages of an employer, 
because they have been robbed of the natural 
opportunities of employing themselves; because 
they cannot find a piece of God's world on which 
to work without paying some other human creature 
for the privilege.' 1 

'Men pray to the Almighty to relieve poverty. 
But poverty comes not from God's laws it is 
blasphemy of the worst kind to say that; it comes 
from man's injustice to his fellows. Supposing the 
Almighty were to hear the prayer, how could He 
carry out the request, so long as His laws are what 
they are? Consider the Almighty gives us nothing 
of the things that constitute wealth; He merely 
gives us the raw material which must be utilized 
by man to produce wealth. Does He not give us 
enough of that now? How could He relieve poverty 
even if He were to give us more? Supposing, in 
answer to these prayers, He were to increase the 

1 The Crime of Poverty (Henry George Foundation of Great 
Britain), p. 14. 



A GREAT INIQUITY 281 

power of the sun, or the virtues of the soil? Suppos- 
ing he were to make plants more prolific, or animals 
to produce after their kind more abundantly? Who 
would get the benefit of it? Take a country where 
land is completely monopolized, as it is in most of 
the civilized countries who would get the benefit 
of it? Simply the landowners. And even if God, 
in answer to prayer, were to send down out of the 
heavens those things that men require, who would 
get the benefit? 

'In the Old Testament we are told that when the 
Israelites journeyed through the desert, they were 
hungered, and that God sent down out of the 
heavens manna. There was enough for all of 
them, and they all took it and were relieved. But, 
supposing that desert had been held as private 
property, as the soil of Great Britain is held, as 
the soil even of our new States is being held; 
supposing that one of the Israelites had a square 
mile, and another one had twenty square miles, 
and another one had a hundred square miles, and 
the great majority of the Israelites did not have 
enough to set the soles of their feet upon, which 
they could call their own what would become of 
the manna? What good would it have done to the 
majority? Not a whit. Though God had sent 
down manna enough for all, that manna would 
have been the property of the landholders; they 
would have employed some of the others, perhaps, 
to gather it up in heaps for them, and would have 
sold it to their hungry brethren. Consider it; this 
purchase and sale of manna might have gone on 
until the majority of the Israelites had given up 
all they had, even to the clothes off their backs. 
What then? Well, then they would not have had 
anything left with which to buy manna, and the 
consequence would have been that while they went 



282 A GREAT INIQUITY 

hungry the manna would have lain in great heaps, 
and the landowners would have been complaining 
of the over-production of manna. There would 
have been a great harvest of manna and hungry 
people, just precisely the phenomenon that we see 
to-day.' 1 

'I do not mean to say that, even after you had 
set right this fundamental injustice, there would 
not be many things to do; but this I do mean to 
say, that our treatment of land lies at the bottom 
of all social questions. This I do mean to say, that, 
do what you please, reform as you may, you never 
can get rid of widespread poverty so long as the 
element on which, and from which, all men must 
live is made the private property of some men. It 
is utterly impossible. Reform government get 
taxes down to the minimum build railroads; 
institute co-operative stores; divide profits, if you 
choose, between employers and employed and 
what will be the result? The result will be that 
land will increase in value that will be the result 
that and nothing else. Experience shows this. Do 
not all improvements simply increase the value of 
land the price that some must pay others for the 
privilege of living?' 2 

Let me add that we constantly see the same thing 
in Russia. All the landowners complain that their 
estates are unprofitable and are run at a loss, but 
the price of land is continually rising. It cannot 
but rise, for the population is increasing and land 
is a matter of life and death to it. 

And so the people give all they can, not only 
their labour but even their lives, for the land which 
is being withheld from them. 

1 The Crime of Poverty (Henry George Foundation of Great 
Britain), p. 15. 
* Ibid., p. 14. 



A GREAT INIQUITY 283 

III 

There used to be cannibalism, there used to be 
human sacrifices, there used to be religious prosti- 
tution and the killing of weakly children and girls ; 
there used to be blood vengeance and the slaughter 
of whole populations, judicial tortures, quarterings, 
burnings at the stake, the lash, and a thing that 
has disappeared within our own memory the 
spitzruten 1 and slavery. 

But if we have outlived those dreadful customs 
and institutions, that does not prove the non- 
existence among us of institutions and customs 
which have become as abhorrent to enlightened 
reason and conscience as those which in their day 
were abolished and are now for us only a dreadful 
memory. The path of mankind towards perfection 
is endless, and at every moment of history there 
are superstitions, deceptions, and pernicious and 
evil institutions that men have already outlived 
and that belong to the past, as well as others that 
present themselves to us as in the mists of a distant 
future, and some that we have with us now and 
the supersession of \\hich forms the problem of our 
life. Capital punishment and punishment in 
general is such a case in our day, so also is prostitu- 
tion, flesh-eating, and the business of militarism 
and war, and so nearest and most urgent case of 
all is private property in land. 

But as people have never freed themselves sud- 
denly from customary injustices nor done so im- 
mediately their harmfulness was recognized by the 
more sensitive people, but have freed themselves 
in jerks, with stoppages and reactions and then 
again by fresh leaps towards freedom, comparable 

1 Spitsyuten rods used on soldiers who had to run the 
gauntlet, from which they sometimes died. A. M. 



284 A GREAT INIQJJITY 

to the pangs of birth as was the case with the 
recent abolition of serfdom so it is now with the 
abolition of private property in land. 

Prophets and sages of old pointed out the evil 
and injustice of private property in land thousands 
of years ago, and the evil of it has been pointed out 
more and more frequently ever since by the pro- 
gressive thinkers of Europe. It was specially clearly 
expressed by those active in the French revolution. 
Subsequently, owing to the increase of population 
and the seizure by the rich of a great deal of what 
had been free land, and also owing to the spread 
of education and the decreasing harshness of 
manners, that injustice has become so obvious that 
progressive people, and even very ordinary people, 
cannot help seeing and feeling it. But men, 
especially those who profit by landed property 
both the owners themselves and others whose 
interests are bound up with that institution are 
so accustomed to this order of things and have 
profited by it so long, that they often do not see its 
injustice and use every possible means to conceal 
the truth from themselves and from others. The 
truth is continually appearing more and more 
clearly, but they try to distort it, suppress it, or 
extinguish it, and if they cannot succeed in this, 
then they try to hush it up. 

Very striking in this respect is the fate of the 
activity of the remarkable man who appeared 
towards the end of the last century Henry George 
who devoted his immense mental powers to 
elucidating the injustice and cruelty of the institu- 
tion of landed property and to indicating means of 
rectifying that injustice under the forms of govern- 
ment now existing in all countries. He did this by 
his books, articles, and speeches, with such extra- 
ordinary force and lucidity that no unprejudiced 



A GREAT INIQUITY 285 

person reading his works could fail to agree with 
his arguments and to see that no reforms can 
render the condition of the people satisfactory until 
this fundamental injustice has been abolished, and 
that the means he proposes for its abolition are 
reasonable, just, and practicable. 

But what has happened? Notwithstanding the 
fact that when Henry George's works first appeared 
in English they spread rapidly throughout the 
Anglo-Saxon world and their high quality could 
not fail to be appreciated, so that it seemed as if 
the truth must prevail and find its way to accom- 
plishment it very soon appeared that in England 
(and even in Ireland where the crying injustice 
of private property in land was very clearly mani- 
fest) the majority of the most influential and 
educated people despite the convincing force of 
the argument and the practicability of the methods 
proposed were opposed to his teaching. Radicals 
like Parnell, who had at first sympathized with 
Henry George's projects, soon drew back from it, 
regarding political reform as more important. In 
England all the aristocrats were opposed to it, and 
among others the famous Toynbee, Gladstone, 
and Herbert Spencer. This latter, after having at 
first in his Statics very definitely expounded the 
injustice of landed property, afterwards withdrew 
that opinion and bought up the first edition of his 
book in order to eliminate all that he had said 
about it. 

At Oxford when Henry George was lecturing, 
the students organized a hostile demonstration, and 
the Roman Catholic party regarded his teaching 
as simply sinful, immoral, dangerous, and contrary 
to Christ's teaching. The orthodox science of politi- 
cal economy rose up against Henry George's teach- 
ing in the same way. Learned professors from the 



286 A GREAT INIQUITY 

height of their superiority refuted it without under- 
standing it, chiefly because it did not recognize 
the fundamental principles of their pseudo- 
science. The Socialists were also inimical con- 
sidering the most important problem of the period 
to be not the land question, but the complete 
abolition of private property. The chief method 
of opposing Henry George was, however, the 
method always employed against irrefutable and 
self-evident truths. This, which is still being 
applied to Henry George's teaching, was that of 
ignoring it. This method of hushing up was prac- 
tised so successfully that Labouchere, a British 
Member of Parliament, could say publicly and 
without contradiction that he 'was not such a 
visionary as Henry George, and did not propose 
to take the land from the landlords in order 
afterwards to rent it out again, but that he only 
demanded the imposition of a tax on the value 
of the land'. That is, while attributing to Henry 
George what he could not possibly have said, 
Labouchere corrected that imaginary fantasy by 
putting forward Henry George's actual proposal. 1 

So that thanks to the collective efforts of all those 
interested in defending the institution of landed 
property, the teaching of Henry George (irrefut- 
ably convincing in its simplicity and lucidity) 
remains almost unknown, and as years go by 
attracts ever less and less attention. 

Here and there in Scotland, Portugal, or New 
Zealand, he is remembered, and among hundreds 
of scientists one is found who knows and defends 
his teaching. But in England and the United 
States the number of his adherents dwindles more 
and more; in France his teaching is almost 

1 See The Life of Henry George by his son (Doubleday Doran 
& Co., New York, 1900), p. 516. 



A GREAT INIQUITY 287 

unknown ; in Germany it is preached in a very small 
circle; and everywhere it is stifled by the noisy 
teaching of Socialism. So that among the majority 
of supposedly educated people it is known only by 
name. 

IV 

They do not argue with Henry George's teach- 
ing, they simply do not know it. (There is no 
other way of dealing with it, for a man who be- 
comes acquainted with it cannot help agreeing 
with it.) 

If it is sometimes referred to, people either 
attribute to it what it does not say or reassert what 
Henry George has refuted, or else contradict him 
simply because he does not conform to the pedan- 
tic, arbitrary, and superficial principles of so-called 
political economy which they recognize as irre- 
futable truths. 

But for all that, the truth that land cannot be 
private property has so elucidated itself by the 
actual experience of contemporary life, that there 
is only one way of continuing to maintain an order 
of things in which the rights of private property 
in land are recognized namely, not to think about 
it, to ignore the truth, and to occupy oneself with 
other absorbing affairs. And that is what is being 
done by the men of our contemporary Christian 
world. 

The political workers of Europe and America 
occupy themselves with all sorts of things for the 
welfare of their peoples : tariffs, colonies, income-tax, 
military and naval budgets, socialistic assemblies, 
unions and syndicates, the election of presidents, 
diplomatic relations anything except the one thing 
without which there cannot be any true improve- 
ment in the people's condition the re-establishment 



288 A GREAT INIQUITY 

of the infringed right of all men to use the land. 
And though the political workers of the Chris- 
tian world feel in their souls, and cannot but feel, 
that all they are doing both in the industrial 
strife and the military strife into which they put 
all their energies, can result in nothing but the 
general exhaustion of the strength of the nations; 
still without looking ahead they yield to the 
demands of the moment and continue to whirl 
around as if with a sole desire to forget them- 
selves in an enchanted circle from which there 
is no issue. 

Strange as is this temporary blindness of the 
political workers of Europe and the United States, 
it can be explained by the fact that in both con- 
tinents the people have already gone so far along a 
wrong road that the majority of them are already 
torn from the land (or in the United States have 
never lived on the land) and get their living in 
factories or as hired agricultural labourers, and 
desire and demand only one thing an improve- 
ment of their position as hired labourers. It is 
therefore understandable that to the politicians of 
Europe and America, attending to the demands of 
the majority, it may seem that the chief means 
of improving the position of the people consists in 
tariffs, trusts, and colonies. But to Russian people 
in Russia where the agricultural population forms 
eighty per cent, of the whole nation and where all 
these people ask only one thing, that opportunity 
be given them to remain on the land it should be 
clear that something else is needed. 

The people of Europe and the United States are 
in the position of a man who has already gone so 
far along a road which at first seemed to him the 
right one, that he is afraid to recognize his mistake 
although the farther he goes the farther he is 



A GREAT INIQUITY 289 

removed from his goal. But Russia is still standing 
at the cross-roads, and can still, as the wise saying 
has it, 'ask her way while still on the road'. 

And what are those Russians doing who wish, 
or at least say they wish, to arrange a good life 
for the people? 

In everything they imitate what is done in 
Europe and America. 

To arrange a good life for the people they are 
concerned about freedom of the Press, religious 
toleration, freedom for trade unions, tariffs, con- 
ditional punishments, the separation of the Church 
from the State, Go-operative Associations, a future 
socialization of the implements of labour, and above 
all representative government that same repre- 
sentative government which has long existed in the 
European and American countries, but whose 
existence has never conduced in the least, nor is 
now conducing, either to the solution of that land 
question which alone solves all difficulties, or even 
to its presentation. If Russian politicians do speak 
about land abuses, which for some reason they call 
'the agrarian question' (possibly imagining that 
this stupid phraseology will conceal the substance 
of the matter) they do not suggest that private 
property in land is an evil that should be abolished, 
but merely suggest various patchings and pallia- 
tives to plaster up, hide, and avoid the recognition 
of this essential, ancient, cruel, obvious, and crying 
injustice which awaits its turn to be abolished 
not only in Russia but in the whole world. 

In Russia, where the hundred-million mass of 
the people continually suffers from the holding up 
of land by private owners and unceasingly cries 
about it, the conduct of those who pretend to 
search everywhere (except where it lies) for means 
of improving the condition of the people, reminds 



ago A GREAT INIQUITY 

me exactly of what takes place on the stage when 
the spectators can all see perfectly well the man 
who has hidden himself, and the actors can also 
see him but pretend not to, purposely diverting 
each other's attention and looking at everything 
except what it is important for them to see. 



People have driven into an enclosure a herd of 
cows on the milk products of which they live. The 
cows have eaten up and trampled down the forage 
in the enclosure, they are famished and have 
chewed each other's tails, they are lowing and 
struggling to get out of that enclosure into the 
pasture lands beyond. But the people who live on 
the milk of these cows have surrounded the en- 
closure with fields of mint, dye-yielding plants, and 
tobacco plantations. They have cultivated flowers, 
and laid out a race-course, a park, and lawn- 
tennis courts; and they will not let the cows out 
lest they should spoil these things. But the cows 
bellow and grow thin, and people begin to fear 
that they will have no milk. So they devise various 
means of improving the condition of the cows. 
They arrange to put awnings over them, they have 
them rubbed down with wet brushes, they gild 
their horns, and alter the hours of milking. They 
concern themselves with the supervision and doctor- 
ing of the old and sick cows; they invent new and 
improved methods of milking and expect that some 
kind of extraordinarily nutritious grass which they 
have planted in the enclosure will grow up. They 
argue about these and many other matters, but 
do not (and cannot without disturbing all the 
surroundings of the enclosure) do the one simple 
thing necessary for the cows as well as for them- 
selves that is, take down the fence and set the 



A GREAT INIQUITY 291 

cows free to enjoy naturally the abundant* pastures 
that surround them. 

People who act in this way behave unreasonably, 
but there is an explanation of their conduct : they 
are sorry to sacrifice the things with which they 
have surrounded the enclosure. But what can be 
said of those who have planted nothing round 
their enclosure but who (imitating those who keep 
their cows enclosed for the sake of what they have 
planted around the enclosure) also keep their cows 
enclosed, and affirm that they do it for the cows' 
welfare? 

But that is just what Russians whether for or 
against the government do, who arrange all sorts 
of European institutions for the Russian people 
who are suffering constantly from want of land, 
and who forget and deny the chief thing, the one 
thing the Russian people require the freeing of 
the land from private ownership and the establish- 
ment of equal rights to the land for everybody. 

It is understandable that European parasites 
who do not draw their subsistence either directly 
or indirectly from the labour of their own English, 
French, or German working men, but whose bread 
is produced by colonial workers in exchange for 
factory products, and who do not see the labour 
and sufferings of the workers who feed and support 
them may devise a future Socialistic organization 
for which they are supposedly preparing mankind, 
and with untroubled conscience amuse themselves 
meanwhile by electoral campaigns, party struggles, 
parliamentary debates, the establishment and over- 
throw of ministries, and various other pastimes 
which they call science and art. 

The real people who feed these European para- 
sites are the labourers they do not see in India, 
Africa, Australia, and to some extent Russia. But 



292 A GREAT INIQUITY 

it is not so for us Russians. We have no colonies 
where slaves we never see provide food for us in 
exchange for our manufactures. Our bread- 
winners, hungry and suffering, are always before 
our eyes, and we cannot transfer the burden of 
our unjust life to distant colonies, that invisible 
slaves should feed us. 

Our sins are always before us. ... 

And here instead of entering into the needs of 
those who support us, listening to their cry and 
endeavouring to answer it under pretence of 
serving them, we prepare for the future a Socialist 
organization in the European manner, occupying 
ourselves meanwhile with what amuses and dis- 
tracts us and professes to be directed to the benefit 
of the people from whom we are squeezing the last 
ounce of strength that they may support us, their 
parasites. 

For the welfare of the people we endeavour to 
abolish the censorship of books, to get rid of 
arbitrary banishment, to establish primary and 
agricultural schools everywhere, to increase the 
number of hospitals, to abolish passports, to cancel 
arrears of taxes, to establish a strict inspection of 
factories and compensation for injured workers, to 
survey the land, to provide assistance through the 
Peasant Bank for the purchasing of land by the 
peasants, and much else. 

Once realize the unceasing sufferings of millions 
of people: the dying of old men, women, and 
children from want, as well as the mortality caused 
by overwork and insufficient food once realize 
the enslavement, the humiliations, all the useless 
expenditure of strength, the perversion, and the 
horrors of the needless sufferings of the Russian 
rural population which arise from lack of land 
and it becomes quite clear that all such measures 



A GREAT INIQUITY 293 

as the abolition of the censorship, of arbitrary 
banishment, and so on, which are sought for by the 
pseudo-defenders of the people would (even were 
they realized) amount to an insignificant drop in 
the sea of want from which the people are suffering. 

But the men concerned with the welfare of the 
people, while devising insignificant changes that 
are unimportant both in quality and quantity, not 
only leave the hundred-million workers in the un- 
ceasing slavery caused by the seizure of the land, 
but many of these men and the most advanced 
of them would like the sufferings of the people to 
be still more intensified, that they may be driven 
to the necessity (after leaving on their way millions 
of victims who will perish of want and depravity) 
of exchanging the happy agricultural life to which 
they are accustomed and to which they are at- 
tached, for the improved factory life they have 
devised for them. 

The Russian people, owing to their agricultural 
environment, their love of this form of life, and 
their Christian trend of character, and also be- 
cause, almost alone among European nations, they 
continue to be an agricultural people and wish to 
remain so are as it were providentially placed by 
historic conditions in the forefront of the truly 
progressive movement of mankind in regard to 
what is called the labour question. 

Yet this Russian people is invited by its fancied 
representatives and leaders to follow in the wake 
of the decadent and entangled European and 
American nations, and to pervert itself and re- 
nounce its calling as quickly as possible, in order 
to become like the Europeans in general. 

Astonishing as is the poverty of thought of those 
men who do not think with their own minds but 
slavishly repeat what is said by their European 



294 A GREAT INIQUITY 

models, the hardness of their hearts and their 

cruelty is still more astonishing. 

VI 

'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for 
ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which outwardly 
appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's 
bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly 
appear righteous unto men, but inwardly ye are full 
of hypocrisy and iniquity.' MATT, xxiii. 27-8. 

There was a time when in the name of God and 
of true faith in Him, men were destroyed, tortured, 
executed, and slaughtered by tens and hundreds 
of thousands. And now, from the height of our 
superiority, we look down on the men who did 
those things. 

But we are wrong. There are just such people 
among us; the difference is only that the men 01 
old did these things in the name of God and His 
true service, while those who do similar evil among 
us now, do it in the name of 'the people' and for 
their true service. And as among those men of old 
there were some who were insanely and confidently 
convinced that they knew the truth, and others 
who were hypocrites making careers for themselves 
under pretence of serving God, and the masses 
who unreasoningly followed the most dexterous 
and bold so now those who do evil in the name 
of service of the people are composed of men 
insanely and confidently convinced that they alone 
know what is right, of hypocrites, and of the masses. 
Much evil was done in their time by the self- 
proclaimed servants of God, thanks to the teaching 
they called theology; but if the servants of the 
people have done less evil by a teaching they call 
scientific, that is only because they have not yet 
had time, though their conscience is already 



A GREAT INIQUITY 295 

burdened by rivers of blood and a great dividing 
and embittering of the people. 

The features of both these activities are alike. 

First there is the dissolute and bad life of the 
majority of these servants both of God and of the 
people. (Their dignity as the chief servants of God, 
or of the people, frees them in their opinion from 
any necessity to restrain their conduct.) 

The second feature is the utter lack of interest, 
attention, or love for that which they desire to 
serve. God has been and is merely a banner for 
those servants of His. In reality they did not love 
Him or seek communion with Him, and neither 
knew Him nor wished to know Him. So also with 
many of the servants of the people. 'The people' 
were and are only a banner, and far from loving 
them or seeking intercourse with them they did not 
know them, but in the depths of their souls regarded 
them with contempt, aversion, and fear. 

The third feature is that while they are pre- 
occupied, the former with the service of one and 
the same God, the latter with the service of one 
and the same people, they not only disagree among 
themselves as to the means of their service, but 
regard the activity of all who do not agree with 
them as false and pernicious, and call for its 
forcible suppression. From this, in the former case, 
came burnings at the stake, inquisitions, and 
massacres; and in the latter, executions, imprison- 
ments, revolutions, and assassinations. 

And finally, the chief and most characteristic 
feature of both is their complete indifference to, 
and absolute ignorance of, what is demanded by 
the One they serve, and of what is proclaimed and 
announced by Him. God, whom they serve and 
have served so zealously, has directly and clearly 
expressed in what they recognize as a Divine 



296 A GREAT INIQUITY 

revelation, that He is to be served only by men 
loving their neighbours and doing to others as they 
wish them to do to them. But they have not 
recognized this as the means of serving God. They 
demand something quite different, which they 
themselves have invented and announced as the 
demands of God. The servants of the people do 
just the same. They do not at all recognize what 
the people express, desire, and clearly ask for. 
They choose to serve them by what the people 
not only do not ask of them but have not the least 
conception of. They serve them by means they 
have invented, and not by the one thing for which 
the people never cease to look and for which they 
unceasingly ask. 

VII 

Of all the essential changes in the forms of social 
life there is one that is ripest the world over, and 
without which no single step forward can be 
accomplished in the life of man. The necessity of 
this alteration is obvious to every man who is free 
from preconceived theories; and it is the concern 
not of Russia alone, but of the whole world. All 
the sufferings of mankind in our time are con- 
nected with it. We in Russia are fortunate in that 
the great majority of our people, living by agri- 
cultural labour, do not recognize the right o* 
private property in land, but desire and demand 
the abolition of that ancient abuse, and express 
their desire unceasingly. 

But no one sees this or wants to see it. 

What is the cause of this perversity? 

Why do good, kind, intelligent men, of whom 
many can be found among the liberals, the 
socialists, the revolutionaries, and even among 
government officials why do these men, who 



A GREAT INIQUITY 297 

desire the people's welfare, not see the one thing 
they are in need of, for which they unceasingly 
strive, and without which they constantly suffer? 
Why are they concerned instead with most various 
things, the realization of which cannot contribute 
to the people's welfare without the realization of 
that which the people desire? 

The whole activity of these servants of the 
people both governmental and anti-governmental 
resembles that of a man who, wishing to help 
a horse that has stuck in a bog, sits in the cart 
and shifts the load from place to place, imagining 
he is helping matters thereby. 

Why is this? 

The answer is the same as to all inquiries why 
the people of our time, who might live well and 
happily, are living badly and miserably. 

It is because these men both governmental. and 
anti-governmental who are organizing the wel- 
fare of the people, lack religion. Without religion 
man cannot live a reasonable life himself; still less 
can he know what is good and what is bad, what 
is necessary and what is unnecessary, for others. 
That alone is why the men of our time in general, 
and the Russian intelligentsia in particular (who are 
completely bereft of religious consciousness and 
proudly announce that fact), so perversely mis- 
understand the life and demands of the people they 
wish to serve claiming for them many different 
things, but not the one thing they need. 

Without religion it is impossible really to love 
men, and without love it is impossible to know 
what they need, and what is more and what less 
needed. Only those who are not religious and 
therefore do not truly love, can devise trifling and 
unimportant improvements in the condition of the 
people without seeing the chief evil from which 



298 A GREAT INIQUITY 

the people suffer, and that is to some extent caused 
by those who wish to help them. Only such people 
can preach more or less cleverly devised abstract 
theories concerning the people's future happiness, 
and not see their present sufferings which call for 
an immediate alleviation that is quite possible. It 
is as if someone who has deprived a hungry man 
of food should give him advice (and that of a 
very doubtful character) as to how to get food in 
future without deeming it necessary to share with 
him the food he has taken from him. 

Fortunately the great and beneficent movements 
of humanity are accomplished not by parasites 
feeding on the people's marrow whatever they 
may call themselves: government officials, revolu- 
tionaries, or liberals but by religious men, that is 
by serious, simple, industrious people, who live 
not for their own profit, vanity, or ambition, and 
not to attain external results, but for the fulfilment 
before God of their human vocation. 

Such men, and only such, move mankind for- 
ward by their quiet but resolute activity. They do 
not try to distinguish themselves in the eyes of 
others by devising this or that improvement in 
the condition of the people (such improvements 
can be innumerable and are all insignificant if the 
chief thing is left undone) but they try to live in 
accord with the law of God and their conscience, 
and in that endeavour naturally come across the 
most obvious infringement of God's law and seek 
means of deliverance both for themselves and 
others. 

A few days ago an acquaintance of mine, a 
doctor, was waiting for a train in the third-class 
waiting-room of a large railway station and was 
reading a paper, when a peasant sitting by him 
asked about the news. There was an article in that 



A GREAT INIQUITY 299 

paper about the 'agrarian* conference. The doctor 
translated the ridiculous word 'agrarian 1 into 
Russian, and when the peasant understood that 
the matter concerned the land, he asked him to 
read the article. The doctor began to read and 
other peasants came up. A group collected, some 
pressed on the backs of others and some sat on the 
floor, but the faces of all wore a look of solemn con- 
centration. When the reading was over, an old man 
at the back sighed deeply and crossed himself. He 
certainly had not understood anything of the con- 
fused jargon in which the article was written (which 
even men who could themselves talk that jargon 
could not readily understand). He understood 
nothing of what was written in that article, but he 
did understand that the matter concerned the great 
and longstanding sin from which his ancestors had 
suffered and from which he himself still suffered, 
and he understood that those who were committing 
this sin were beginning to be conscious of it. 
Having understood this he mentally turned to God, 
and crossed himself. And in that movement of his 
hand there was more meaning and content than 
in all the prattle that now fills the columns of our 
papers. He understood, as all the people under- 
stood, that the seizure of the land by those who do 
not work on it is a great sin, from which his 
ancestors suffered and perished physically and he 
himself and his neighbours continue to suffer 
physically, while those who committed this sin in 
the past, and those who now commit it, suffer 
spiritually all the time and that this sin like 
every sin (like the sin of serfdom within his own 
memory) must inevitably come to an end. He 
knew and felt this, and therefore could not but 
turn to God at the thought of an approaching 
solution. 



300 A GREAT INIQUITY 

VIII 

'Great social reforms,' says Mazzini, 'always have 
and always will result only from great religious 
movements. 5 

Such a religious movement now awaits the 
Russian people the whole Russian people, both 
the workers deprived of land and even more the 
landowners (large, medium, and small) and all the 
hundreds of thousands of men who though not 
actually possessed of land, occupy advantageous 
positions thanks to the compulsory labour of those 
who are deprived of it. 

The religious movement now due among the 
Russian people consists in cancelling the great sin 
that has for so long tormented and divided people 
not only in Russia but in the whole world. 

That sin cannot be undone by political reforms 
or socialist systems planned for the future, or by 
a revolution now. Still less can it be undone by 
philanthropic contributions, or government or- 
ganizations for the purchase and distribution of 
land among the peasants. 

Such palliative measures only divert attention 
from the essence of the problem and thus hinder 
its solution. No artificial sacrifices are necessary, 
nor concern about the people what is needed is 
simply that all who are committing this sin or 
taking part in it should be conscious of it, and 
desire to be free from it. 

It is only necessary that the undeniable truth 
which the best of the people know and have always 
known that the land cannot be anyone's exclusive 
property, and that to refuse access to it to those 
who are in need of it is a sin should be recognized 
by all men; that people should become ashamed of 



A GREAT INIQUITY 301 

withholding the land from those who need it for 
their subsistence; and that it should be felt to be 
shameful to participate in any way in withholding 
the land from those who need it that it should be 
felt to be shameful to possess land, and shameful 
to profit by the labour of men who are forced to 
work merely because they are refused their legiti- 
mate right to the land. 

What happened in regard to serfdom (when the 
landholding nobility and gentry became ashamed 
of it, when the government became ashamed to 
maintain those unjust and cruel laws, and when 
it became evident to the peasants themselves that 
a wrong for which there was no justification was 
being done them) should come about in regard to 
property in land. And this is necessary not for 
any one class, however numerous, but for all 
classes, and not merely for all classes and all men 
of any one country, but for all mankind. 

IX 

'Social reform is not to be secured by noise and 
shouting, by complaints and denunciation, by the 
formation of parties or the making of revolutions,' 
wrote Henry George, 'but by the awakening of 
thought and the progress of ideas. Until there be 
correct thought there cannot be right action, and 
when there is correct thought right action will 
follow. . . . 

'The great work of the present for every man and 
every organization of men who would improve 
social conditions is the work of education, the 
propagation of ideas. It is only as it aids this that 
anything else can avail. And in this work every- 
one who can think may aid, first by forming clear 
ideas himself and then by endeavouring to arouse 



302 A GREAT INIQUITY 

the thought of those with whom he comes in 

contact.' 1 

That is quite right, but to serve that great cause 
there must be something else besides thought a 
religious feeling, that feeling in consequence of 
which the serf-owners of the last century acknow- 
ledged that they were in the wrong, and sought 
means in spite of personal losses and even ruin to 
free themselves from the guilt that oppressed them. 

If the great work of freeing the land is to be 
accomplished, that same feeling must arise among 
people of the possessing classes, and must arise to 
such an extent that people will be ready to sacrifice 
everything simply to free themselves from the sin 
in which they have lived and are living. 

To talk in various assemblies and committees 
about improving the condition of the people while 
possessing hundreds, thousands, and tens of 
thousands of acres, trading in land, and benefiting 
in this or that way from landed property, and living 
luxuriously thanks to the oppression of the people 
that arises from that evident and cruel injustice 
without being willing to sacrifice one's own ex- 
ceptional advantages obtained from that same 
injustice is not only not a good thing, it is both 
harmful and horrid, and is condemned by common 
sense, honesty, and Christianity. 

It is not necessary to devise cunning means of 
improving the position of men who are deprived 
of their legitimate right to the land, but that those 
who deprive them of it should understand the sin 
they commit, and cease to participate in it what- 
ever this may cost. Only such moral activity of 
every man can and will contribute to the solution 
of the question now confronting humanity. 

1 Social Problems (Henry George Foundation of Great 
Britain), p. 209. 



A GREAT INIQUITY 303 

The emancipation of the serfs in Russia was 
accomplished not by Alexander II, but by those 
men who understood the sin of serfdom and tried 
to liberate themselves from it regardless of their 
personal advantage. It was effected chiefly by 
Novikov, Radishchev, and the Decembrists 1 
those men who (without causing others to suffer) 
were ready to suffer themselves, and who did suffer 
for t^e sake of loyalty to what they felt to be the 
truth. 

The same ought to occur in relation to the 
emancipation of the land. And I believe there are 
men living who will accomplish that great work 
which now faces not only the Russian people but 
the whole world. 

The land question in our time has reached such 
a stage of ripeness as legalized serfdom had reached 
fifty years ago. Exactly the same thing is being 
repeated. As people then sought means of remedy- 
ing the general uneasiness and dissatisfaction that 
society felt, and all sorts of external, governmental 
means were applied, but nothing helped or could 
help while the ripening question of personal 
slavery remained unsolved so now no external 
measures will help, or can help, until the ripe 
question of landed property is settled. 

Just as measures are now proposed for adding 
slices to the peasants' land, and for the Peasant 
Bank to aid tnem in the purchase of land, and so 
on, so palliative measures were then proposed and 
enacted the so-called 'inventories', rules restrict- 
ing work for the proprietor to three days a week, 
and much else. Just as now the owners of land talk 
about the injustice of terminating the wrongful 

1 Russian radicals of the late eighteenth and early nine- 
teenth century, who suffered exile and other penalties for their 
reformist efforts. A. M. 



3 o 4 A GREAT INIQUITY 

ownership of land, so they then talked of the 
wrongfulness of depriving the owners of their serfs. 
Just as the Church then justified serfdom, so now 
science (which has taken the place of the Church) 
justifies property in land. As then the serf-owners, 
more or less realizing their sin, endeavoured to 
mitigate it in various ways without freeing the 
slaves, and allowed serfs to pay ransom to free 
themselves from compulsory work for their masters, 
or lessened the labour demanded of them, so now 
the more sensitive landowners, feeling their guilt, 
try to redeem it by renting their land to the 
peasantry on easier terms, by selling it through the 
Land Banks, and organizing for the people schools, 
ridiculous amusement houses, magic lanterns, and 
theatres. 

And the indifferent attitude of the government 
is also similar. But as then the question was solved 
not by those who devised ingenious methods of 
relieving and improving the condition of the serfs, 
but by those who acknowledging the urgent 
necessity of a solution did not postpone it to the 
future, did not anticipate special difficulties, but 
tried to end the evil at once, not admitting the 
idea that there could be circumstances in which 
an acknowledged wrong could continue, and who 
took the course which appeared best under the exist- 
ing conditions so it is now with the land question. 

That question will be solved not by men who 
try to mitigate the evil, or devise alleviations for the 
people, or postpone the task to the future, but by 
those who understand that however much a wrong 
may be mitigated, it remains a wrong that it is 
senseless to devise alleviations for a man whom 
we are torturing, and that one cannot delay when 
people are suffering, but must at once adopt the 
best means of ending that suffering. 



A GREAT INIQUITY 305 

This is the more easily accomplished in that the 
method of solving the land question has been 
worked out by Henry George so thoroughly that 
even under the existing State organization and 
compulsory taxation it is impossible to reach any 
more practical, just, and peaceful decision. 

'To beat down and cover up the truth that I 
have tried to-night to make clear to you,' said 
Henry George, 'selfishness will call on ignorance. 
But it has in it the germinative force of truth, and 
the times are ripe for it. ... 

'The ground is ploughed; the seed is set; the 
good tree will grow. So little now; only the eye 
of faith can see it.' 1 

And I think Henry George is right that the 
removal of the sin of property in land is near, that 
the movement evoked by him was the last birth- 
throe, and that the birth itself is imminent the 
liberation of men from sufferings they have borne 
so long. I also think (and I should like to contri- 
bute to this in however small a degree) that the 
removal of this great and world-wide sin the 
cessation of which will be an era in the history 
of mankind awaits our Russian Slavonic people 
predestined by its spiritual and economic character 
for this great and world-wide task. I think that 
the Russian people should not be proletarianized 
in imitation of the peoples of Europe and America, 
but should on the contrary solve the land question 
at home by the abolition of private ownership, 
and should show other people the path to a reason- 
able, free, and happy life (outside industrial, 
factory, and capitalistic violence and slavery) in 
which its great and historic vocation lies. 

I should like to think that we Russian parasites, 
reared by and having received leisure for mental 
1 Life of Henry George (by his son) p. 296. 



306 A GREAT INIQUITY 

work through the people's labour, shall under- 
stand our sin and (independently of personal 
advantage) try to undo it for the sake of the truth 
that condemns us. 

[June 1905.} 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 



Ar article by Ernest Howard Crosby 1 on Shake- 
speare's attitude towards the people has sug- 
gested to me the idea of expressing the opinion 
I formed long ago about Shakespeare's works, an 
opinion quite contrary to that established through- 
out the European world. Recalling the struggle 
with doubts, the pretences, and the efforts to attune 
myself to Shakespeare that I went through owing 
to my complete disagreement with the general 
adulation, and supposing that many people have 
experienced and are experiencing the same per- 
plexity, I think it may be of some use definitely and 
frankly to express this disagreement of mine with 
the opinion held by the majority, especially as the 
conclusions I came to on examining the causes of 
my disagreement are it seems to me not devoid of 
interest and significance. 

My disagreement with the established opinion 
about Shakespeare is not the result of a casual 
mood or of a light-hearted attitude towards the 
subject, but it is the result of repeated and strenuous 
efforts extending over many years to harmonize 
my views with the opinions about Shakespeare 
accepted throughout the whole educated Christian 
world. 

1 E. H. Crosby was for some time a member of the New 
York State Legislature; subsequently he went to Egypt as a 
judge in the Mixed Tribunals. While there he began reading 
the works of Tolst6y, which influenced him strongly. He 
visited Tolstdy, and afterwards co-operated with him in 
various ways. In an essay on *Shakespeare and the Working 
Glasses' he drew attention to the anti-democratic tendency of 
that poet's plays, and Tolst6y began his own essay intending 
it as a preface to Crosby's. A. M. 



308 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

I remember the astonishment I felt when I first 
read Shakespeare. I had expected to receive a great 
aesthetic pleasure, but on reading one after another 
the works regarded as his best, King Lear, Romeo and 
Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth, not only did I not 
experience pleasure but I felt an insuperable repul- 
sion and tedium, and a doubt as to whether I 
lacked sense since I considered as insignificant or 
even simply bad, works which are regarded as the 
summit of perfection by the whole educated world 
or whether the importance attributed to Shake- 
speare's works by that educated world lacks sense. 
My perplexity was increased by the fact that I have 
always keenly felt the beauties of poetry in all its 
forms: why then did Shakespeare's works, recog- 
nized by the whole world as works of artistic genius, 
not only fail to please me but even seem detestable? 
For a long time I distrusted my judgement, and 
to check my conclusions I have repeatedly, during 
the past fifty years, set to work to read Shakespeare 
in all possible forms in Russian, in English, and 
in German in Schlegel's translation, as I was ad- 
vised to. I read the tragedies, comedies, and his- 
torical plays several times over, and I invariably 
experienced the same feelings repulsion, weariness, 
and bewilderment. Now, before writing this article, 
as an old man of seventy-five, 1 wishing once more 
to check my conclusions, I have again read the 
whole of Shakespeare, including the historical 
plays, the Henrys, Troilus and Cressida, The Tempest, 
and Cymbeline, &c., and have experienced the same 
feeling still more strongly, no longer with perplexity 
but with a firm and unshakable conviction that 
the undisputed fame Shakespeare enjoys as a great 

1 Tolstdy was born in 1828. This essay appeared in 1906, 
so that he began his re-reading of Shakespeare three years 
before this article was published. A. M. 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 309 

genius which makes writers of our time imitate 
him, and readers and spectators, distorting their 
aesthetic and ethical sense, seek non-existent 
qualities in him is a great evil, as every false- 
hood is. 

Although I know that the majority of people 
have such faith in Shakespeare's greatness that on 
reading this opinion of mine they will not even 
admit the possibility of its being correct and will 
not pay any attention to it, I shall nevertheless try 
as best I can to show why I think Shakespeare 
cannot be admitted to be either a writer of great 
genius or even an average one. 

For this purpose I will take one of the most 
admired of Shakespeare's dramas Kin& Ltar> in 
enthusiastic praise of which most of the critics 
agree. 

'The tragedy of Lear is deservedly celebrated 
among the dramas of Shakespeare, 5 says Dr. John- 
son. 'There is perhaps no play which keeps the 
attention so strongly fixed, which so much agitates 
our passions and interests our curiosity.' 

'We wish that we could pass this play over and 
say nothing about it,' says Hazlitt. 'All that we 
can say must fall far short of the subject, or even of 
what we ourselves conceive of it. To attempt to 
give a description of the play itself or of its effect 
upon the mind is mere impertinence; yet we must 
say something. It is then the best of Shakespeare's 
plays, for it is the one in which he was most in 
earnest.' 

'If the originality of invention did not so much 
stamp almost every play of Shakespeare that 
to name one as the most original seems a dis- 
paragement to others,' says Hallam, c we might say 
that this great prerogative of genius was exercised 
above all in Lear. It diverges more from the model 



3io SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

of regular tragedy than Macbeth or Othello, or even 
more than Hamlet, but the fable is better con- 
structed than in the last of these and it displays 
full as much of the almost superhuman inspiration 
of the poet as the other two.' 

'King Lear may be recognized as the perfect 
model of the dramatic art of the whole world,' 
says Shelley. 

'I am not minded to say much of Shakespeare's 
Arthur;' says Swinburne. 'There are one or two 
figures in the world of his work of which there are 
no words that would be fit or good to say. Another 
of these is Cordelia. The place they have in our 
lives and thoughts is not one for talk. The niche 
set apart for them to inhabit in our secret hearts is 
not penetrable by the lights and noises of common 
day. There are chapels in the cathedral of man's 
highest art, as in that of his inmost life, not made 
to be set open to the eyes and feet of the world. 
Love and Death and Memory keep charge for us 
in silence of some beloved names. It is the crown- 
ing glory of genius, the final miracle and trans- 
cendant gift of poetry that it can add to the number 
of these and engrave on the very heart of our 
remembrance fresh names and memories of its own 
creation.' 

'Lear, c'est 1'occasion de Cordelia,' says Victor 
Hugo. 'La maternite de la fille sur le pere; sujet 
profonde; la maternite venerable entre toutes, si 
admirablement traduite par la tegende de cette 
romaine, nourrice, au fond d'un cachot, de son 
pere vieillard. La jeune mamelle pres de la barbe 
blanche, il n'est point de spectacle plus sacre. Cette 
mamelle filiale c'est Cordelia. 

'Une fois cette figurt reve*e et trouve*e Shake- 
speare a cre*6 son drame. . . . Shakespeare, portant 
Cordelia dans sa pens^e, a cre"c* cette trag^die commo 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 311 

un dieu, qui ayant une aurore a placer, fcrait tout 
expres un monde pour 1'y mettre.' 1 

'In Lear Shakespeare's vision sounded the abyss 
of horror to its very depths, and his spirit showed 
neither fear, nor giddiness, nor faintness at the 
sight,' says Brandes. 'On the threshold of this work 
a feeling of awe comes over one as on the threshold 
of the Sistine Chapel with its ceiling-frescoes by 
Michael Angelo, only that the suffering here is far 
more intense, the wail wilder, the harmonies of 
beauty more definitely shattered by the discords of 
despair.' 

Such are the judgements of the critics on this 
drama, and therefore I think I am justified in 
choosing it as an example of Shakespeare's best 
plays. 

I will try as impartially as possible to give the 
contents of the play, and then show why it is not 
the height of perfection, as it is said to be by the 
learned critics, but something quite different. 

II 

The tragedy of Lear begins with a scene in 
which two courtiers, Kent and Gloucester, are 
talking. Kent, pointing to a young man who is 
present, asks Gloucester whether that is his son. 
Gloucester says that he has often blushed to 
acknowledge the young man as his son but has 

1 *Lear is Cordelia's play. The maternal feeling of the 
daughter towards the father profound subject a maternity 
venerable among all other maternities so admirably set 
forth in the legend of that Roman girl who nursed her old 
father in the depths of a prison. There is no spectacle more 
holy than that of the young breast near the white beard. 
That filial breast is Cordelia. 

'Once this figure was dreamed and found Shakespeare 
created his drama . . . Shakespeare, carrying Cordelia in his 
thoughts, created that tragedy like a god who having an 
aurora to place makes a world expressly for it.' 



312 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

now ceased to do so. Kent says: 'I cannot con- 
ceive you.' Then Gloucester, in the presence of his 
son, says: 'Sir, this young fellow's mother could; 
whereupon she grew round- wombed, and had, 
indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a hus- 
band for her bed. . . .' He goes on to say that he 
had another son who was legitimate, but 'though 
this knave came somewhat saucily before he was 
sent for, yet was his mother fair, there was good 
sport at his making, and the whoreson must be 
acknowledged.' 

Such is the introduction. Not to speak of the 
vulgarity of these words of Gloucester, they are 
also out of place in the mouth of a man whom it 
is intended to represent as a noble character. It 
is impossible to agree with the opinion of some 
critics that these words are put into Gloucester's 
mouth to indicate the contempt for illegitimacy 
from which Edmund suffered. Were that so, it 
would in the first place have been necessary to 
make the father express the contempt felt by 
people in general, and secondly Edmund, in his 
monologue about the injustice of those who despise 
him for his birth, should have referred to his 
father's words. But this is not done, and therefore 
these words of Gloucester's at the very beginning 
of the piece were merely for the purpose of in- 
forming the public in an amusing way of the fact 
that Gloucester has a legitimate and an illegitimate 
son. 

After this trumpets are blown, King Lear enters 
with his daughters and sons-in-law, and makes a 
speech about being aged and wishing to stand 
aside from affairs and divide his kingdom between 
his daughters. In order to know how much he 
should give to each daughter he announces that 
to the daughter who tells him she loves him most 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 313 

he will give most. The eldest daughter, Goneril, 
says that there are no words to express her love, 
that she loves him 'dearer than eyesight, space, 
and liberty', and she loves him so much that it 
'makes her breath poor'. King Lear immediately 
allots on the map to this daughter her share, with 
fields, woods, rivers, and meadows, and puts the 
same question to his second daughter. The second 
daughter, Regan, says that her sister has correctly 
expressed her own feelings, but insufficiently. She, 
Regan, loves her father so that everything is 
abhorrent to her except his love. The King rewards 
this daughter also, and asks his youngest, favourite 
daughter, in whom, according to his expression, 
'the wine of France and milk of Burgundy strive 
to be interess'd' that is, who is courted by the 
King of France and the Duke of Burgundy asks 
Cordelia how she loves him. Cordelia, who per- 
sonifies all the virtues as the two elder sisters 
personify all the vices, says quite inappropriately, 
as if on purpose to vex her father, that though she 
loves and honours him and is grateful to him, yet, 
if she marries, not all her love will belong to him, 
but she will love her husband also. 

On hearing these words the King is beside him- 
self, and immediately curses his favourite daughter 
with most terrible and strange maledictions, saying, 
for instance, that he will love a man who eats his 
own children as much as he now loves her who 
was once his daughter. 

The barbarous Scythian, 
Or he that makes his generation messes 
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom 
Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and reliev'd, 
As thou, my sometime daughter. 

The courtier, Kent, takes Cordelia's part, and 
wishing to bring the King to reason upbraids him 



314 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

with his injustice and speaks reasonably about the 
evil of flattery. Lear, without attending to Kent, 
banishes him under threat of death, and calling 
to him Cordelia's two suitors, the King of France 
and the Duke of Burgundy, proposes to each in 
turn to take Cordelia without a dowry. The Duke 
of Burgundy says plainly that he will not take 
Cordelia without a dowry, but the King of France 
takes her without dowry and leads her away. After 
this the elder sisters, there and then conversing 
with one another, prepare to offend their father 
who had endowed them. So ends the first scene. 

Not to mention the inflated, characterless style in 
which King Lear like all Shakespeare's kings 
talks, the reader or spectator cannot believe that 
a king, however old and stupid, could believe the 
words of the wicked daughters with whom he had 
lived all their lives, and not trust his favourite 
daughter, but curse and banish her; therefore the 
reader or spectator cannot share the feeling of the 
persons who take part in this unnatural scene. 

Scene II begins with Edmund, Gloucester's 
illegitimate son, soliloquizing on the injustice of 
men who concede rights and respect to a legitimate 
son but deny them to an illegitimate son, and he 
determines to ruin Edgar and usurp his place. For 
this purpose he forges a letter to himself, as from 
Edgar, in which the latter is made to appear to 
wish to kill his father. Having waited till Gloucester 
appears, Edmund, as if against his own desire, 
shows him this letter, and the father immediately 
believes that his son Edgar, whom he tenderly 
loves, wishes to kill him. The father goes away, 
Edgar enters, and Edmund suggests to him that 
his father for some reason wishes to kill him. Edgar 
also at once believes him, and flees from his father. 

The relations between Gloucester and his two 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 315 

sons, and the feelings of these characters, are as 
unnatural as Lear's relation to his daughters, if not 
more so; and therefore it is even more difficult for 
the spectator to put himself into the mental condi- 
tion of Gloucester and his sons and to sympathize 
with them, than it was in regard to Lear and his 
daughters. 

In Scene IV the banished Kent, disguised so that 
Lear does not recognize him, presents himself to 
the King who is now staying with Goneril. Lear 
asks who he is, to which Kent, one does not know 
why, replies in a jocular tone quite inappropriate 
to his position: 'A very honest-hearted fellow and 
as poor as the King.' 'If thou be'st as poor for 
a subject as he's for a King, thou art poor enough,' 
replies Lear. 'How old art thou?' 'Not so young, 
sir, to love a woman for singing, nor so old as to 
dote on her for anything,' to which the King replies 
that if he likes him not worse after dinner he will 
let him remain in his service. 

This talk fits in neither with Lear's position nor 
with Kent's relation to him, and is evidently put 
into their mouths only because the author thought 
it witty and amusing. 

Goneril's steward appears and is rude to Lear, 
for which Kent trips him up. The King, who still 
does not recognize Kent, gives him money for this 
and takes him into his service. After this the fool 
appears, and a talk begins between the fool and 
the King, quite out of accord with the situation, 
leading to nothing, prolonged, and intended to be 
amusing. Thus, for instance, the fool says, 'Give me 
an egg, and I'll give thee two crowns.' The King 
asks what crowns they shall be. 'Why, after I have 
cut the egg i'the middle and eat up the meat, the 
two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy 
crown i'the middle, and gavest away both parts, 



316 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

thou borest thine ass on thy back o'er the dirt; 
thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown when thou 
gavest thy golden one away. If I speak like myself 
in this, let him be whipped that first finds it so.' 

In this manner prolonged conversations go on, 
producing in the spectator or reader a sense of 
wearisome discomfort such as one experiences when 
listening to dull jokes. 

This conversation is interrupted by the arrival 
of Goneril. She demands that her father should 
diminish his retinue: instead of a hundred courtiers 
he should be satisfied with fifty. On hearing this 
proposal Lear is seized with terrible, unnatural 
rage, and asks: 

Does any here know me? This is not Lear! 

Does Lear walk thus? Speak thus? Where are his eyes? 

Either his notion weakens, his discernings 

Are lethargied. Ha! Waking? 'tis not so, 

Who is it that can tell me who I am? 

and so forth. 

Meanwhile the fool unceasingly interpolates his 
humourless jokes. Goneril's husband appears and 
wishes to appease Lear, but Lear curses Goneril, 
invoking sterility upon her, or the birth of such 
a child as would repay with ridicule and contempt 
her maternal cares, and would thereby show her 
all the horror and suffering caused by a child's 
ingratitude. 

These words, which express a genuine feeling, 
might have been touching had only this been said, 
but they are lost among long high-flown speeches 
Lear continually utters quite inappropriately. 
Now he calls down blasts and fogs on his daughter's 
head, now desires that curses should 'pierce every 
sense about thee', or, addressing his own eyes, says 
that if they weep he will pluck them out and cast 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 317 

them, with the waters that they lose, 'to temper 
clay'. 

After this Lear sends Kent, whom he still does 
not recognize, to his other daughter and notwith- 
standing the despair he has just expressed he talks 
with the fool and incites him to jests. The jests 
continue to be mirthless, and besides the unpleasant 
feeling akin to shame that one feels at unsuccessful 
witticisms, they are so long-drawn-out as to be 
wearisome. So, for instance, the fool asks the King, 
'Canst thou tell why one's nose stands i' the middle 
of one's face?' Lear says he does not know. 

'Why, to keep one's eyes of either side one's 
nose: that what a man cannot smell out he may 
spy into.' 

'Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?' the 
fool asks. 

'No.' 

'Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has 
a house. 5 

'Why?' 

'Why, to put his head in; not to give it away to 
his daughters, and leave his horns without a case.' 

'Be my horses ready?' asks Lear. 

'Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why 
the seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty 
reason.' 

'Because they are not eight?' says Lear. 

'Yes, indeed; thou wouldst make a good fool,' 
says the fool, and so forth. 

After this long scene a gentleman comes and 
announces that the horses are ready. The fool says : 

She that ' s a maid now and laughs at my departure, 
Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter, 

and goes off. 

Scene I of Act II begins with the villain Edmund 



3i8 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

persuading his brother, when his father enters, to 
pretend that they are fighting with their swords. 
Edgar agrees, though it is quite incomprehensible 
why he should do so. The father finds them 
fighting. Edgar runs away, and Edmund scratches 
his own arm to draw blood, and persuades his 
father that Edgar was using charms to kill his 
father and had wanted Edmund to help him, but 
that he had refused to do so and Edgar had then 
thrown himself upon him and wounded him in the 
arm. Gloucester believes everything, curses Edgar, 
and transfers all the rights of his elder and legiti- 
mate son to the illegitimate Edmund. The Duke 
of Cornwall, hearing of this, also rewards Edmund. 

In Scene II, before Gloucester's castle, Lear's new 
servant Kent, still unrecognized by Lear, begins 
without any reason to abuse Oswald (GoneriPs 
steward), calling him 'a knave, a rascal, an cater 
of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, 
three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted- 
stocking knave; . . . the son and heir of a mongrel 
bitch', and so on. Then, drawing his sword, he 
demands that Oswald should fight him, saying that 
he will make of him a 'sop o' the moonshine', 
words no commentator has been able to explain, 
and when he is stopped he continues to give vent 
to the strangest abuse, saying, for instance, that he, 
Oswald, has been made by a tailor, because 'a 
stone-cutter, or a painter, could not have made 
him so ill, though they had been but two hours 
at the trade'. He also says that if he is allowed he 
will tread this unbolted villain into mortar, and 
daub the wall of a privy with him. 

And in this way Kent, whom nobody recognizes 
though both the King and the Duke of Cornwall, 
as well as Gloucester who is present, should know 
him well continues to brawl in the character of 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 319 

a new servant of Lear's, until he is seized and put 
in the stocks. 

Scene III takes place on a heath. Edgar, flying 
from his father's pursuit, hides himself in a tree, 
and he tells the audience what kinds of lunatics 
there are, beggars who go about naked, thrust pins 
and wooden pricks into their bodies, and scream 
with wild voices and enforce charity, and he says 
that he intends to play the part of such a lunatic in 
order to escape from the pursuit. Having told the 
audience this he goes off. 

Scene IV is again before Gloucester's castle. 
Lear and the fool enter. Lear sees Kent in the 
stocks and, still not recognizing him, is inflamed 
with anger against those who have dared so to 
treat his messenger, and he calls for the Duke and 
Regan. The fool goes on with his queer sayings. 
Lear with difficulty restrains his anger. The Duke 
and Regan enter. Lear complains of Goneril, but 
Regan justifies her sister. Lear curses Goneril, and 
when Regan tells him he had better go back to 
her sister he is indignant and says: 'Ask her for- 
giveness?' and goes on his knees, showing how 
improper it would be for him abjectly to beg food 
and clothing as charity from his own daughter, and 
he curses Goneril with the most terrible curses, and 
asks who has dared to put his messenger in the 
stocks. Before Regan can answer Goneril arrives. 
Lear becomes yet more angry and again curses 
Goneril, and when he is told that the Duke had 
ordered the stocks he says nothing, for at this 
moment Regan tells him that she cannot receive 
him now and that he had better return with 
Goneril, and in a month's time she will herself 
receive him but with only fifty followers instead 
of a hundred. Lear again curses Goneril and does 
not want to go with her, still hoping that Regan 



320 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

will receive him with all his hundred followers, but 
Regan now says she will only allow him twenty- 
five, and then Lear decides to go back with 
Goneril who allows fifty. Then, when Goneril says 
that even twenty-five are too many, Lear utters 
a long discourse about the superfluous and sufficient 
being conditional conceptions, and says that if a 
man is allowed only as much as is necessary he is 
no different from a beast. And here Lear, or rather 
the actor who plays Lear, addresses himself to a 
finely dressed woman in the audience, and says 
that she too does not need her finery, which does not 
keep her warm. After this he falls into a mad rage, 
says that he will do something terrible to be 
revenged upon his daughters, but will not weep, 
and so he departs. The noise of a storm that is 
commencing is heard. 

Such is the second Act, full of unnatural occur- 
rences and still more unnatural speeches not flowing 
from the speaker's circumstances, and finishing 
with the scene between Lear and his daughters 
which might be powerful if it were not overloaded 
with speeches most naively absurd and unnatural, 
and quite inappropriate moreover, put into Lear's 
mouth. Lear's vacillations between pride, anger, 
and hope of concessions from his daughters would 
be exceedingly touching were they not spoilt by 
these verbose absurdities which he utters about 
being ready to divorce Regan's dead mother should 
Regan not be glad to see him, or about evoking 
'fensucked fogs' to infect his daughter, or about 
the heavens being obliged to protect old men as 
they themselves are old, and much else. 

Act III begins with thunder, lightning, and 
storm a special kind of storm such as there never 
was before, as one of the characters in the play says. 
On the heath a gentleman tells Kent that Lear, 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 321 

expelled by his daughters from their houses, is 
wandering about the heath alone tearing his hair 
and throwing it to the winds, and that only the 
fool is with him. Kent tells the gentleman that the 
Dukes have quarrelled and that a French army 
has landed at Dover, and having communicated 
this he dispatches the gentleman to Dover to meet 
Cordelia. 

Scene II of Act III also takes place on the heath. 
Lear walks about the heath and utters words 
intended to express despair: he wishes the winds 
to blow so hard that they (the winds) should crack 
their cheeks, and that the rain should drench 
everything, and that the lightning should singe his 
white head and thunder strike the earth flat and 
destroy all the germs 'that make ingrateful man!' 
The fool keeps uttering yet more senseless words. 
Kent enters. Lear says that for some reason all 
criminals shall be discovered and exposed in this 
storm. Kent, still not recognized by Lear, per- 
suades Lear to take shelter in a hovel. The fool 
thereupon utters a prophecy quite unrelated to the 
situation and they all go off. 

Scene II is again transferred to Gloucester's 
castle. Gloucester tells Edmund that the French 
king has already landed with an army and intends 
to help Lear. On learning this Edmund decides to 
accuse his father of treason in order to supplant him. 

Scene IV is again on the heath in front of the 
hovel. Kent invites Lear to enter the hovel, but 
Lear replies that he has no reason to shelter himself 
from the storm, that he does not feel it, as the 
tempest in his mind aroused by his daughters' 
ingratitude overpowers all else. This true feeling, 
if expressed in simple words, might evoke sympathy, 
but amid his inflated and incessant ravings it is 
hard to notice it, and it loses its significance. 

459 vr 



322 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

The hovel to which Lear is led turns out to be 
the same that Edgar has entered disguised as a 
madman, that is to say, without clothes. Edgar 
comes out of the hovel and, though they all know 
him, nobody recognizes him any more than they 
recognize Kent; and Edgar, Lear, and the fool, 
begin to talk nonsense which continues with inter- 
vals for six pages. In the midst of this scene 
Gloucester enters (who also fails to recognize either 
Kent or his own son Edgar), and tells them how 
his son Edgar wished to kill him. 

This scene is again interrupted by one in 
Gloucester's castle, during which Edmund betrays 
his father and the Duke declares he will be revenged 
on Gloucester. The scene again shifts to Lear. 
Kent, Edgar, Gloucester, Lear, and the fool are 
in a farm-house and are talking. Edgar says: 
'Frateretto calls me and tells me, Nero is an angler 
in the lake of darkness. . . .' The fool says: 'Nuncle, 
tell me, whether a madman be a gentleman, or 
a yeoman?' Lear, who is out of his mind, says that 
a madman is a king. The fool says: 'No, he's a 
yeoman, that has a gentleman to his son; for he's 
a mad yeoman, that sees his son a gentleman 
before him.' Lear cries out: 'To have a thousand 
with red burning spits come hissing in upon them. 5 
And Edgar shrieks that the foul fiend bites his 
back. Then the fool utters an adage that one 
cannot trust 'the tameness of a wolf, a horse's 
health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath'. Then Lear 
imagines that he is trying his daughters. 'Most 
learned justicer,' says he addressing the naked 
Edgar. 'Thou, sapient sir, sit here. Now, you she 
foxes!' To this Edgar says: 

Look, where he stands and glares ! 
Wantonest thou eyes at trial, madam? 
Gome o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me ! 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 323 

and the fool sings: 

Her boat hath a leak, 

And she must not speak 

Why she dares not come over to thee. 

Edgar again says something, and Kent begs Lear 
to lie down, but Lear continues his imaginary trial. 

Bring in the evidence. 

Thou robed man ol justice, take thy place; (to Edgm] 
And thou, his yoke-fellow of equity, (to the fool) 
Bench by his side. You are of the commission, (to Kent) 
Sit you too. 

'Pur! the cat is grey,' cries Edgar. 

'Arraign her first; 'tis Goneril,* says Lear. 'I 
here take my oath before this honourable assembly, 
she kicked the poor King her father.' 

Fool'. Gome hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril? 
(addressing a joint-stool] 

Lear: And here's another. . . . Stop her there! 

Arms, arms, sword, fire ! Corruption in the place ' 
False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape? 

and so on. 

This raving ends by Lear falling asleep and 
Gloucester persuading Kent, still without recogniz- 
ing him, to take the King to Dover. Kent and the 
fool carry Lear off. 

The scene changes to Gloucester's castle. 
Gloucester himself is accused of treason, and is 
brought in and bound. The Duke of Cornwall 
tears out one of his eyes and stamps on it. Regan 
says that one eye is still whole and that this healthy 
eye is laughing at the other eye, and urges the 
Duke to crush it too. The Duke is about to do so, 
but for some reason one of the servants suddenly 
takes Gloucester's part and wounds the Duke. 
Regan kills the servant. The servant dies and tells 
Gloucester that he has still one eye to sec that the 



322 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

The hovel to which Lear is led turns out to be 
the same that Edgar has entered disguised as a 
madman, that is to say, without clothes. Edgar 
comes out of the hovel and, though they all know 
him, nobody recognizes him any more than they 
recognize Kent; and Edgar, Lear, and the fool, 
begin to talk nonsense which continues with inter- 
vals for six pages. In the midst of this scene 
Gloucester enters (who also fails to recognize either 
Kent or his own son Edgar), and tells them how 
his son Edgar wished to kill him. 

This scene is again interrupted by one in 
Gloucester's castle, during which Edmund betrays 
his father and the Duke declares he will be revenged 
on Gloucester. The scene again shifts to Lear. 
Kent, Edgar, Gloucester, Lear, and the fool are 
in a farm-house and are talking. Edgar says: 
'Frateretto calls me and tells me, Nero is an angler 
in the lake of darkness. . . .' The fool says: 'Nuncle, 
tell me, whether a madman be a gentleman, or 
a yeoman?' Lear, who is out of his mind, says that 
a madman is a king. The fool says: 'No, he's a 
yeoman, that has a gentleman to his son; for he's 
a mad yeoman, that sees his son a gentleman 
before him.' Lear cries out: 'To have a thousand 
with red burning spits come hissing in upon them. 5 
And Edgar shrieks that the foul fiend bites his 
back. Then the fool utters an adage that one 
cannot trust 'the tameness of a wolf, a horse's 
health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath'. Then Lear 
imagines that he is trying his daughters. 'Most 
learned justicer,' says he addressing the naked 
Edgar. 'Thou, sapient sir, sit here. Now, you she 
foxes!' To this Edgar says: 

Look, where he stands and glares ! 
Wantonest thou eyes at trial, madam? 
Gome o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me ! 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 323 

and the fool sings: 

Her boat hath a leak, 

And she must not speak 

Why she dares not come over to thee. 

Edgar again says something, and Kent begs Lear 
to lie down, but Lear continues his imaginary trial. 

Bring in the evidence. 

Thou robed man oi justice, take thy place; (to Edgar) 
And thou, his yoke-fellow of equity, (to the fool) 
Bench by his side. You are of the commission, (to Kent) 
Sit you too. 

"Pur! the cat is grey,' cries Edgar. 

'Arraign her first; 'tis Goneril, 5 says Lear. 'I 
here take my oath before this honourable assembly, 
she kicked the poor King her father.' 

Fool: Gome hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril? 

(addressing a joint-stool) 
Lear: And here's another. . . . Stop her there! 

Arms, arms, sword, fire ! Corruption in the place ! 

False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape? 

and so on. 

This raving ends by Lear falling asleep and 
Gloucester persuading Kent, still without recogniz- 
ing him, to take the King to Dover. Kent and the 
fool carry Lear off. 

The scene changes to Gloucester's castle. 
Gloucester himself is accused of treason, and is 
brought in and bound. The Duke of Cornwall 
tears out one of his eyes and stamps on it. Regan 
says that one eye is still whole and that this healthy 
eye is laughing at the other eye, and urges the 
Duke to crush it too. The Duke is about to do so, 
but for some reason one of the servants suddenly 
takes Gloucester's part and wounds the Duke. 
Regan kills the servant. The servant dies and tells 
Gloucester that he has still one eye to see that the 



324 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

evil-doer is punished. The Duke says: 'Lest it see 
more, prevent it: out, vile jelly!' and tears out 
Gloucester's other eye and throws it on the floor. 
Here Regan mentions that Edmund has denounced 
his father, and Gloucester suddenly understands 
that he has been deceived and that Edgar did not 
wish to kill him. 

This ends the third Act. Act IV is again in the 
open country. Edgar, still in the guise of a maniac, 
talks in artificial language about the perversities 
of fate and the advantages of a humble lot. Then, 
curiously enough, to the very spot on the open 
heath where he is, comes his father, blind Glou- 
cester, led by an old man, and he too talks about 
the perversities of fate in that curious Shake- 
spearian language the chief peculiarity of which 
is that the thoughts arise either from the sound of 
the words, or by contrast. He tells the old man 
who leads him to leave him. The old man says 
that without eyes one cannot go alone, because 
one cannot see the way. Gloucester says: 

'I have no way, and therefore want no eyes.' 

And he argues that he stumbled when he saw 
and that our defects often save us. 

'Ah! dear son Edgar,' adds he, 

The food of thy abused father's wrath. 
Might I but live to see thee in my touch, 
I'd say I had eyes again! 

Edgar, naked, in the character of a lunatic, hears 
this, but does not disclose himself; he takes the 
place of the old man who had acted as guide, and 
talks with his father who does not recognize his 
voice and believes him to be a madman. Gloucester 
takes the opportunity to utter a witticism about 
'when madmen lead the blind', and insists on 
driving away the old man, obviously not from 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 325 

motives which might be natural to him at that 
moment, but merely to enact an imaginary leap 
over the cliff when left alone with Edgar. And 
though he has only just seen his blinded father 
and learned that he repents of having driven him 
away, Edgar utters quite unnecessary sayings which 
Shakespeare might know, having read them in 
Harsnet's book, 1 but which Edgar had no means 
of becoming acquainted with, and which, above all, 
it is quite unnatural for him to utter in his then 
condition. He says: 

4 Five fiends have been in poor Tom at once: of 
lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididence, prince of dumb- 
ness; Mahu, of stealing; Modo, of murder; and 
Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and mowing, who 
since possesses chamber-maids and waiting- women. ' 

On hearing these words, Gloucester gives Edgar 
his purse, saying: 

That I am wretched 

Makes thee the happier. Heavens, deal so still ! 

Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man 

That braves your ordinance, that will not see 

Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly; 

So distribution should undo excess, 

And each man have enough. 

Having uttered these strange words, the blind 
Gloucester demands that Edgar should lead him 
to a cliff that he does not himself know, but that 
hangs over the sea, and they depart. 

Scene II of Act IV takes place before the Duke 
of Albany's palace. Goneril is not only cruel but 
also dissolute. She despises her husband, and dis- 
closes her love to the villain Edmund, who has 
obtained his father's title of Gloucester. Edmund 

1 A Declaration of egregious popish ''mpostures, etc., by Dr. 
Samuel Harsnet, London, 1603, which contains almost all 
that Edgar says in his feigned madness. A. M. 



326 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

goes away and a conversation takes place between 
Goneril and her husband. The Duke of Albany, 
the only character who shows human feelings, has 
already grown dissatisfied with his wife's treatment 
of her father, and now definitely takes Lear's part, 
but he expresses himself in words which destroy 
one's belief in his feelings. He says that a bear 
would lick Lear's reverence, and that if the heavens 
do not send their visible spirits to tame these vile 
offences, humanity must prey on itself like monsters, 
and so forth. 

Goneril does not listen to him, and he then begins 
to denounce her. 
He says: 

See thyself, devil! 

Proper deformity seems not in the fiend 

So horrid, as in woman. 

'O vain fool !' says Goneril, but the Duke continues: 

Thou changed and self-cover'd thing, for shame, 

Be-monster not thy feature. Were it my fitness 

To let these hands obey my blood, 

They are apt enough to dislocate and tear 

Thy flesh and bones : Howe'er thou art a fiend, 

A woman's shape doth shield thee. 

After this a messenger enters and announces that 
the Duke of Cornwall, wounded by a servant while 
he was tearing out Gloucester's eyes, has died. 
Goneril is glad, but already anticipates with fear 
that Regan, being now a widow, will snatch 
Edmund from her. This ends the second scene. 

Scene III of Act IV represents the French camp. 
From a conversation between Kent and a gentle- 
man, the reader or spectator learns that the King 
of France is not in the camp, and that Cordelia 
has received a letter from Kent and is greatly 
grieved by what she learns about her father. The 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 327 

gentleman says that her face reminded one of sun- 
shine and rain. 

Her smiles and tears 

Were like a better day : Those happy smilets, 
That play'd on her ripe lip, seem'd not to know 
What guests were in her eyes ; which parted thence, 
As pearls from diamonds dropp'd, 

and so forth. The gentleman says that Cordelia 
desires to see her father, but Kent says that Lear 
is ashamed to see the daughter he has treated so 
badly. 

In Scene IV Cordelia, talking with a physician, 
tells him that Lear has been seen, and that he is 
quite mad, wearing on his head a wreath of various 
weeds and roaming about, and that she has sent 
soldiers to find him, and she adds the wish that 
all secret medicinal virtues of the earth may spring 
to him in her tears, and so forth. 

She is told that the forces of the Dukes are 
approaching; but she is only concerned about her 
father, and goes off. 

In Scene V of Act IV, which is in Gloucester's 
castle, Regan talks with Oswald, Goneril's steward, 
who is carrying a letter from Goneril to Edmund, 
and tells him that she also loves Edmund and that 
as she is a widow it is better for her to marry him 
than for Goneril to do so, and she asks Oswald to 
persuade her sister of this. Moreover she tells him 
that it was very unwise to put out Gloucester's 
eyes and yet to let him live, and therefore she 
advises Oswald if he meets Gloucester to kill him, 
and promises him a great reward if he does so. 

In Scene VI Gloucester again appears with his 
unrecognized son Edgar, who, now dressed as a 
peasant, is leading his father to the cliff. Gloucester 
is walking along on level ground, but Edgar assures 
him that they are with difficulty ascending a steep 



328 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

hill. Gloucester believes this. Edgar tells his father 
that the noise of the sea is audible; Gloucester 
believes this also. Edgar stops on a level place 
and assures his father that he has ascended the 
cliff and that below him is a terrible abyss, and he 
leaves him alone. Gloucester, addressing the gods, 
says that he shakes off his affliction as he could not 
bear it longer without condemning them, the gods, 
and having said this he leaps on the level ground 
and falls, imagining that he has jumped over the 
cliff. Edgar thereupon utters to himself a yet more 
confused phrase: 

And yet I know not how conceit may rob 

The treasury of life, when life itself 

Yields to the theft; had he been where he thought, 

By this had thought been past, 

and he goes up to Gloucester pretending to be 
again a different man, and expresses astonishment 
at the latter not having been killed by his fall from 
such a dreadful height. Gloucester believes that 
he has fallen and prepares to die, but he feels that 
he is alive and begins to doubt having fallen. Then 
Edgar assures him that he really did jump from 
a terrible height, and says that the man who was 
with him at the top was a fiend, for he had eyes 
like two full moons, and a thousand noses, and 
wavy horns. 

Gloucester believes this, and is persuaded that 
his despair was caused by the devil, and therefore 
decides that he will despair no longer but will 
quietly await death. Just then Lear enters, for 
some reason all covered with wild flowers. He has 
gone mad and utters speeches yet more meaning- 
less than before. He talks about coining money, 
about a bow, calls for a clothier's yard, then he 
cries out that he sees a mouse which he wishes to 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 329 

entice with a piece of cheese, and then he suddenly 
asks the password of Edgar, who at once replies 
with the words, 'Sweet Marjoram'. Lear says, 
'Pass! 5 and the blind Gloucester, who did not 
recognize his son's or Kent's voice, recognizes the 
King's. 

Then the King, after his disconnected utterances, 
suddenly begins to speak ironically about flatterers 
who said 'ay and no' like the theologians and 
assured him that he could do everything, but when 
he got into a storm without shelter he saw that 
this was not true; and then he goes on to say that 
as all creatures are wanton, and as Gloucester's 
bastard son was kinder to his father than Lear's 
daughters had been to theirs (though, according 
to the course of the play, Lear could know nothing 
of Edmund's treatment of Gloucester), therefore 
let copulation thrive, especially as he, a King, lacks 
soldiers. And thereupon he addresses an imaginary, 
hypocritically virtuous lady who acts the prude 
while at the same time, like an animal in heat, she 
is addicted to lust. All women 'but to the girdle 
do the gods inherit. Beneath is all the fiend's . . /, 
and saying this Lear screams and spits with horror. 
This monologue is evidently meant to be addressed 
by actor to audience, and probably produces an 
effect on the stage, but is quite uncalled for in the 
mouth of Lear as is his desire to wipe his hand 
because it 'smells of mortality' when Gloucester 
wishes to kiss it. Then Gloucester's blindness is 
referred to, which gives an opportunity for a play 
of words on eyes and Cupid's blindness, and for 
Lear to say that Gloucester has 'no eyes in your 
head, nor no money in your purse? Your eyes 
are in a heavy case, your purse in a light.' Then 
Lear declaims a monologue on the injustice of legal 
judgement, which is quite out of place in his 



330 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

mouth seeing that he is insane. Then a gentleman 
enters with attendants, sent by Cordelia to fetch 
her father. Lear continues to behave madly and 
runs away. The gentleman sent to fetch Lear does 
not run after him but continues to tell Edgar 
lengthily about the position of the French and the 
British armies. 

Oswald enters, and seeing Gloucester and wishing 
to obtain the reward promised by Regan, attacks 
him; but Edgar, with his stave, kills Oswald, who 
when dying gives Edgar (the man who has killed 
him) Goneril's letter to Edmund, the delivery of 
which will earn a reward. In this letter Goneril 
promises to kill her husband and marry Edmund. 
Edgar drags out Oswald's body by the legs, and 
then returns and leads his father away. 

Scene VII of Act IV takes place in a tent in the 
French camp. Lear is asleep on a bed. Cordelia 
enters with Kent, still in disguise. Lear is awakened 
by music, and seeing Cordelia does not believe she 
is alive but thinks her an apparition, and does not 
believe that he is himself alive. Cordelia assures 
him that she is his daughter and begs him to bless 
her. He goes on his knees before her, begs for- 
giveness, admits himself to be old and foolish, and 
says he is ready to take poison, which he thinks 
she probably has prepared for him as he is per- 
suaded that she must hate him. 

For your sisters 

Have, as I do remember, done me wrong; 
You have some cause, they have not. 

Then little by little he comes to his senses and 
ceases to rave. His daughter suggests that he 
should take a little walk. He consents, and says: 

You must bear with me: 
Pray you now, forget and forgive: I am old and foolish. 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 331 

They go off. The gentleman and Kent, who 
remain on the scene, talk in order to explain to 
the audience that Edmund is at the head of the 
forces and that a battle must soon begin between 
Lear's defenders and his enemies. So Act IV ends. 

In this Fourth Act the scene between Lear and 
his daughter might have been touching had it not 
been preceded in three previous acts by the tedious 
monotonous ravings of Lear, and also had it been 
the final scene expressing his feelings, but it is not 
the last. 

In Act V Lear's former cold, pompous, artificial 
ravings are repeated, destroying the impression the 
preceding scene might have produced. 

Scene I of Act V shows us Edmund and Regan 
(who is jealous of her sister and offers herself to 
Edmund). Then Goneril comes on with her hus- 
band and soldiers. The Duke of Albany, though he 
pities Lear, considers it his duty to fight against 
the French who have invaded his country, and so 
prepares himself for battle. 

Then Edgar enters, still disguised, and hands the 
Duke of Albany the letter, and says that if the Duke 
wins the battle he should let a herald sound a 
trumpet, and then (this is 800 years B.C.) a cham- 
pion will appear who will prove that the contents 
of the letter are true. 

In Scene II Edgar enters leading his father, 
whom he seats by a tree, and himself goes off. The 
sounds of a battle are heard, Edgar runs back and 
says that the battle is lost; Lear and Cordelia are 
prisoners. Gloucester is again in despair. Edgar, 
still not disclosing himself to his father, tells him 
that he should not despair, and Gloucester at once 
agrees with him. 

Scene III opens with a triumphal progress of 
Edmund the victor. Lear and Cordelia are 



332 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

prisoners. Lear, though he is now no longer insane, 
sf '"11 utters the same sort of senseless, inappropriate 
words, as, for instance, that in prison with Cordelia, 

We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage, 
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down, 
And ask of thee forgiveness. 

(This kneeling down comes three times over.) He 
also says that when they are in prison they will 
wear out poor rogues and 'sects of great ones that 
ebb and flow by the moon', that he and she are 
sacrifices upon which 'the gods throw incense', 
that 'he that parts them shall bring a brand from 
heaven, and fire us hence like foxes', and that 

The good years shall devour them, flesh and fell, 
Ere they shall make us weep, 

and so forth. 

Edmund orders Lear and his daughter to be led 
away to prison, and having ordered a captain to 
do them some hurt, asks him whether he will fulfil 
it. The captain replies, 'I cannot draw a cart, nor 
eat dried oats; but if it be man's work I will do it.' 
The Duke of Albany, Goneril, and Regan enter. 
The Duke wishes to take Lear's part, but Edmund 
opposes this. The sisters intervene and begin to 
abuse each other, being jealous of Edmund. Here 
everything becomes so confused that it is difficult 
to follow die action. The Duke of Albany wants to 
arrest Edmund, and tells Regan that Edmund had 
long ago entered into guilty relations with his wife 
and that therefore Regan must give up her claim 
on Edmund, and if she wishes to marry should 
marry him, the Duke of Albany. 

Having said this, the Duke challenges Edmund 
and orders the trumpet to be sounded, and if no 
one appears intends himself to fight him. 

At this point Regan, whom Goneril has evidently 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 333 

poisoned, writhes with pain. Trumpets are 
sounded and Edgar enters with a visor which 
conceals his face, and without giving his name 
challenges Edmund. Edgar abuses Edmund; 
Edmund casts back all the abuse on Edgar's head. 
They fight and Edmund falls. Goneril is in despair. 

The Duke of Albany shows Goneril her letter. 
Goneril goes off. 

Edmund, while dyins;, recognizes that his op- 
ponent is his brother. Edgar raises his visor and 
moralizes to the effect that for having an illegiti- 
mate son, Edmund, his father has paid with the 
loss of his sight. After this Edgar tells the Duke of 
Albany of his adventures and that he has only 
now, just before coming to this combat, disclosed 
himself to his father, and his father could not bear 
it and died of excitement. Edmund, who is not 
yet dead, asks what else happened. 

Then Edgar relates that while he was sitting by 
his father's body a man came, embraced him 
closely, cried out as if he would burst heaven, 
threw himself on his father's corpse, and told a 
most piteous tale about Lear and himself, and 
having told it 'the strings of life began to crack', 
but just then the trumpet sounded twice and he, 
Edgar, left him 'tranced'. And this was Kent. 
Before Edgar has finished telling this story a 
gentleman runs in with a bloody knife, shouting, 
'Help!' To the question 'Who has been killed?' 
the gentleman says that Goneril is dead, who had 
poisoned her sister. She had confessed this. Kent 
enters, and at this moment the bodies of Regan 
and Goneril are brought in. Edmund thereupon 
says that evidently the sisters loved him greatly, 
as the one had poisoned the other and then killed 
herself for his sake. At the same time he confesses 
that he had given orders to kill Lear and hang 



334 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

Cordelia in prison, under the pretence that she had 
committed suicide; but that he now wishes to 
prevent this, and, having said so, he dies and is 
carried out. 

After this Lear enters with Cordelia's dead body 
in his arms (though he is over eighty years of age 
and ill). And again there begin his terrible ravings 
which make one feel as ashamed as one does when 
listening to unsuccessful jokes. Lear demands that 
they should all howl, and alternately believes that 
Cordelia is dead and that she is alive. He says: 

Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so 
That heaven's vault should crack. 

Then he recounts how he has killed the slave 
who hanged Cordelia. Next he says that his eyes 
see badly, and thereupon recognizes Kent whom 
all along he had not recognized. 

The Duke of Albany says that he resigns his 
power as long as Lear lives, and that he will 
reward Edgar and Kent and all who have been 
true to him. At that moment news is brought that 
Edmund has died; and Lear, continuing his 
ravings, begs that they will undo one of his buttons, 
the same request that he made when roaming 
about the heath. He expresses his thanks for this, 
tells them all to look somewhere, and with these 
words he dies. 

In conclusion the Duke of Albany, who remains 
alive, says: 

The weight of this sad time we must obey ; 
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. 
The oldest hath borne most: we that are young 
Shall never see so much, nor live so long. 

All go off to the sound of a dead march. This 
ends Act V of the play. 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 335 

III 

Such is this celebrated play. Absurd as it may 
appear in this rendering (which I have tried to 
make as impartial as possible), I can confidently 
say that it is yet more absurd in the original. To 
any man of our time, were he not under the 
hypnotic influence of the suggestion that this play 
is the height of perfection, it would be enough to 
read it to the end, had he patience to do so, to 
convince himself that far from being the height of 
perfection it is a very poor, carelessly constructed 
work, which if it may have been of interest to a 
certain public of its own day, can evoke nothing 
but aversion and weariness in us now. And any 
man of our day free from such suggestion would 
receive just the same impression from the other 
much praised dramas of Shakespeare, not to speak 
of the absurd dramatized tales, Pericles, Twelfth 
Night y The Tempest, Cymbeline, and Troilus and 
Cressida. 

But such free-minded people not predisposed to 
Shakespeare worship, are no longer to be found in 
our time and in our Christian society. The idea 
that Shakespeare is a poetic and dramatic genius, 
and that all his works are the height of perfection, 
has been instilled into every man of our society 
and time from an early period of his conscious life. 
And therefore, superfluous as it would seem, I will 
try to indicate, in the play of King Lear which I 
have chosen, the defects characteristic of all Shake- 
speare's tragedies and comedies, as a result of which 
they not only fail to furnish models of dramatic 
art but fail to satisfy the most elementary and 
generally recognized demands of art. 

According to the laws laid down by those very 
critics who extol Shakespeare, the conditions of 



336 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

every tragedy are that the persons who appear 
should, as a result of their own characters, actions, 
and the natural movement of events, be brought 
into conditions in which, finding themselves in 
opposition to the world around them, they should 
struggle with it and in that struggle display their 
inherent qualities. 

In the tragedy of King Lear the persons repre- 
sented are indeed externally placed in opposition 
to the surrounding world and struggle against it. 
But the struggle does not result from a natural 
course of events and from their own characters, 
but is quite arbitrarily arranged by the author and 
therefore cannot produce on the reader that illusion 
which constitutes the chief condition of art. Lear 
is under no necessity to resign his power, and has 
no reason to do so. And having lived with his 
daughters all their lives he also has no reason to 
believe the words of the two elder, and not the 
truthful statement of the youngest; yet on this the 
whole tragedy of his position is built. 

Equally unnatural is the secondary and very 
similar plot : the relation of Gloucester to his sons. 
The position of Gloucester and Edgar arises from 
the fact that Gloucester, like Lear, immediately 
believes the very grossest deception, and does not 
even try to ask the son who had been deceived, 
whether the accusation against him is true, but 
curses him and drives him away. 

The fact that the relation of Lear to his daughters 
is just the same as that of Gloucester to his sons, 
makes one feel even more strongly that they are 
both arbitrarily invented and do not flow from the 
characters or the natural course of events. Equally 
unnatural and obviously invented is the fact that 
all through the play Lear fails to recognize his old 
courtier, Kent; and so the relations of Lear and 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 337 

Kent fail to evoke the sympathy of reader or 
hearer. This applies in an even greater degree to 
the position of Edgar, whom nobody recognizes, 
who acts as guide to his blind father and persuades 
him that he has leapt from a cliff when he has 
really jumped on level ground. 

These positions in which the characters are quite 
arbitrarily placed are so unnatural that the reader 
or spectator is unable either to sympathize with 
their sufferings or even to be interested in what he 
reads or hears. That in the first place. 

Secondly there is the fact that both in this and 
in Shakespeare's other dramas all the people live, 
think, speak, and act, quite out of accord with the 
given period and place. The action of King Lear 
takes place 800 years B.C., and yet the characters 
in it are placed in conditions possible only in the 
Middle Ages: Kings, dukes, armies, illegitimate 
children, gentlemen, courtiers, doctors, farmers, 
officers, soldiers, knights in armour, and so on, 
appear in it. Perhaps such anachronisms (of which 
all Shakespeare's plays are full) did not infringe 
the possibility of illusion in the i6th century and 
the beginning of the 1 7th, but in our time it is no 
longer possible to be interested in the development 
of events that could not have occurred in the condi- 
tions the author describes in detail. 

The artificiality of the positions, which do not 
arise from a natural course of events and from the 
characters of the people engaged, and their in- 
compatibility with the period and the place, is 
further increased by the coarse embellishments 
Shakespeare continually makes use of in passages 
meant to be specially touching. The extraordinary 
storm during which Lear roams about the heath, 
the weeds which for some reason he puts on his 
head, as Ophelia does in Hamlet, Edgar's attire all 



338 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

these effects, far from strengthening the impression, 
produce a contrary effect. 'Man sieht die Absicht 
und man wird verstimm? 1 as Goethe says. It often 
happens as for instance with such obviously in- 
tentional effects as the dragging out of half a dozen 
corpses by the legs, with which Shakespeare often 
ends his tragedies that instead of feeling fear and 
pity one feels the absurdity of the thing. 

IV 

Not only are the characters in Shakespeare's 
plays placed in tragic positions which are quite 
impossible, do not result from the course of events, 
and are inappropriate to the period and the place, 
they also behave in a way that is quite arbitrary 
and not in accord with their own definite charac- 
ters. It is customary to assert that in Shakespeare's 
dramas character is particularly well expressed and 
that with all his vividness his people are as many- 
sided as real people, and that while exhibiting the 
nature of a certain given individual they also show 
the nature of man in general. It is customary to say 
that Shakespeare's delineation of character is the 
height of perfection. This is asserted with great 
confidence and repeated by everyone as an indis- 
putable verity, but much as I have tried to find 
confirmation of this in Shakespeare's dramas I 
have always found the reverse. 

From the very beginning of reading any of 
Shakespeare's plays I was at once convinced that 
it is perfectly evident that he is lacking in the 
chief, if not the sole, means of portraying character, 
which is individuality of language that each person 
should speak in a way suitable to his own character. 
That is lacking in Shakespeare. All his characters 
speak not a language of their own but always one 
1 'One sees the intention and is put off.' 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 339 

and the same Shakespearian, affected, unnatural 
language, which not only could they not speak, but 
which no real people could ever have spoken 
anywhere. 

No real people could speak, or could have spoken, 
as Lear does saying that, 'I would divorce me 
from thy mother's tomb' if Regan did not receive 
him, or telling the winds to 'crack your cheeks', 
or bidding 'the wind blow the earth into the sea', 
or 'swell the curl'd waters 'bove the main', as the 
gentleman describes what Lear said to the storm, 
or that it is easier to bear one's griefs and 'the mind 
much sufferance doth o'erskip, when grief hath 
mates, and bearing fellowship' ('bearing' meaning 
suffering), that Lear is 'childed, as I father'd', as 
Edgar says, and so forth unnatural expressions 
such as overload the speeches of the people in all 
Shakespeare's dramas. 

But it is not only that the characters all talk as 
no real people ever talked or could talk; they are 
also all afflicted by a common intemperance of 
language. 

In love, preparing for death, fighting, or dying, 
they all talk at great length and unexpectedly 
about quite irrelevant matters, guided more by 
the sounds of the words and by puns than by the 
thoughts. 

And they all talk alike. Lear raves just as Edgar 
does when feigning madness. Kent and the fool 
both speak alike. The words of one person can 
be put into the mouth of another, and by the 
character of the speech it is impossible to know who 
is speaking. If there is a difference in the speech 
of Shakespeare's characters, it is only that Shake- 
speare makes different speeches for his characters, 
and not that they speak differently. 

Thus Shakespeare always speaks for his kings 



340 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

in one and the same inflated, empty language. 
Similarly all his women who are intended to be 
poetic, speak the same pseudo-sentimental Shake- 
spearian language: Juliet, Desdemona, Cordelia, 
and Miranda. In just the same way also it is 
Shakespeare who always speaks for his villains: 
Richard, Edmund, lago, and Macbeth expressing 
for them those malignant feelings which villains 
never express. And yet more identical is the talk 
of his madmen, with their terrible words, and the 
speeches of his fools with their mirthless witticisms. 

So that the individual speech of living people 
that individual speech which in drama is the 
chief means of presenting character is lacking in 
Shakespeare. (If gesture is also a means of ex- 
pressing character, as in the ballet, it is only a 
subsidiary means.) If the characters utter what- 
ever comes to hand and as it comes to hand and all 
in one and the same way, as in Shakespeare, even 
the effect of gesture is lost ; and therefore whatever 
blind worshippers of Shakespeare may say, Shake- 
speare does not show us characters. 

Those persons who in his dramas stand out as 
characters, are characters borrowed by him from 
earlier works which served as the bases of his plays, 
and they are chiefly depicted, not in the dramatic 
manner which consists of making each person 
speak in his own diction, but in the epic manner, 
by one person describing the qualities of another. 

The excellence of Shakespeare's depiction of 
character is asserted chiefly on the ground of the 
characters of Lear, Cordelia, Othello, Desdemona, 
FalstafT, and Hamlet. But these characters, like 
all the others, instead of belonging to Shakespeare, 
are taken by him from previous dramas, chronicles, 
and romances. And these characters were not 
merely not strengthened by him, but for the most 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 341 

part weakened and spoilt. This is very evident 
in the drama of King Lear which we are consider- 
ing, and which was taken by Shakespeare from the 
play of King Leir by an unknown author. The 
characters of this drama, such as Lear himself and 
in particular Cordelia, were not only not created 
by Shakespeare, but have been strikingly weakened 
by him and deprived of personality as compared 
with the older play. 

In the older play Leir resigns his power because, 
having become a widower, he thinks only of saving 
his soul. He asks his daughters about their love 
for him in order to keep his youngest and favourite 
daughter with him on his island by means of a 
cunning device. The two eldest are betrothed, 
while the youngest does not wish to contract a 
loveless marriage with any of the neighbouring 
suitors Leir offers her, and he is afraid she may 
marry some distant potentate. 

The device he has planned, as he explains to his 
courtier Perillus (Shakespeare's Kent), is this: that 
when Cordelia tells him that she loves him more 
than anyone, or as much as her elder sisters do, 
he will say that in proof of her love she must marry 
a prince he will indicate on his island. 

All these motives of Lear's conduct are lacking 
in Shakespeare's play. In the older play, when 
Leir asks his daughters about their love for him, 
Cordelia does not reply (as Shakespeare has it) 
that she will not give her father all her love but 
will also love her husband if she marries to say 
which is quite unnatural she simply says that she 
cannot express her love in words but hopes her 
actions will prove it. Goneril and Regan make 
remarks to the effect that Cordelia's answer is not 
an answer and that their father cannot quietly 
accept such indifference. So that in the older play 



342 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

there is an explanation, lacking in Shakespeare, of 
Leir's anger at the youngest daughter's reply. Leir 
is vexed at the non-success of his cunning device, 
and the venomous words of his elder daughters 
add to his irritation. After the division of his 
kingdom between the two elder daughters in the 
older play comes a scene between Cordelia and 
the King of Gaul which, instead of the impersonal 
Shakespearian Cordelia, presents us with a very 
definite and attractive character in the truthful, 
tender, self-denying youngest daughter. While 
Cordelia, not repining at being deprived of a share 
in the inheritance, sits grieving that she has lost 
her father's love, and looking forward to earning 
her bread by her own toil, the King of Gaul enters, 
who in the disguise of a pilgrim wishes to choose 
a bride from among Leir's daughters. He asks 
Cordelia the cause of her grief and she tells him. 
Having fallen in love with her, he woos her for 
the King of Gaul in his pilgrim guise, but Cordelia 
says she will only marry a man she loves. Then the 
pilgrim offers her his hand and heart, and Cordelia 
confesses that she loves him and agrees to marry 
him, notwithstanding the poverty and privation 
that she thinks await her. Then the pilgrim dis- 
closes to her that he is himself the King of Gaul, 
and Cordelia marries him. 

Instead of this scene Lear, according to Shake- 
speare, proposes to Cordelia's two suitors to take 
her without dowry, and one cynically refuses, 
while the other takes her without our knowing why. 

After this in the older play, as in Shakespeare, 
Leir undergoes insults from Goneril to whose 
house he has gone, but he bears these insults in 
a very different way from that represented by 
Shakespeare: he feels that by his conduct to Cor- 
delia he has deserved them and he meekly sub- 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 343 

mits. As in Shakespeare so also in the older play, 
the courtier, Perillus (Kent), who has taken 
Cordelia's part and has therefore been punished, 
comes to Leir; not disguised, but simply as a 
faithful servant who does not abandon his King 
in a moment of need, and assures him of his love. 
Leir says to him what in Shakespeare Lear says 
to Cordelia in the last scene that if his daughters 
whom he has benefited hate him, surely one to 
whom he has done evil cannot love him. But 
Perillus (Kent) assures the King of his love, and 
Leir, pacified, goes on to Regan. In the older play 
there are no tempests or tearing out of grey hairs, 
but there is a weakened old Leir, overpowered 
by grief and humbled, and driven out by his second 
daughter also, who even wishes to kill him. 
Turned out by his elder daughters, Leir in the 
older play, as a last resource, goes with Perillus to 
Cordelia. Instead of the unnatural expulsion of 
Leir during a tempest and his roaming about the 
heath, in the old play Leir with Perillus during 
their journey to France very naturally come to 
the last degree of want. They sell their, clothes to 
pay for the sea-crossing, and exhausted by cold 
and hunger they approach Cordelia's house in 
fishermen's garb. Here again, instead of the un- 
natural conjoint ravings of the fool, Lear, and 
Edgar, as presented by Shakespeare, we have in 
the older play a natural scene of the meeting be- 
tween the daughter and father. Cordelia who 
notwithstanding her happiness has all the time 
been grieving about her father and praying God 
to forgive her sisters who have done him so much 
wrong meets him, now in the last stage of want, 
and wishes immediately to disclose herself to him, 
but her husband advises her not to do so for fear 
of agitating the weak old man. She agrees and 



344 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

takes Leir into her house, and without revealing 
herself to him takes care of him. Leir revives little 
by little, and then the daughter asks him who he 
is, and how he lived formerly. If, says Leir, 

. . . from the first I should relate the cause, 

I would make a heart of adamant to weep. 

And thou, poor soul, 

Kind-hearted as thou art, 

Dost weep already ere I do begin. 

Cordelia replies: 

For God's love tell it, and when you have done, 
I'll tell the reason why I weep so soon. 

And Leir relates all he has suffered from his elder 
daughters and says that he now wishes to find 
shelter with the one who would be right should she 
condemn him to death. 'If, however,' he says, 'she 
will receive me with love, it will be God's and her 
work and not my merit !' To this Cordelia replies, 
'Oh, I know for certain that thy daughter will 
lovingly receive thee!' 'How canst thou know this 
without knowing her?' says Leir. 'I know,' says 
Cordelia, 'because not far from here, I had a 
father who acted towards me as badly as thou 
hast acted towards her, yet if I were only to see 
his white head, I would creep to meet him on my 
knees.' 'No, this cannot be,' says Leir, 'for there 
are no children in the world so cruel as mine.' 
'Do not condemn all for the sins of some,' says 
Cordelia, falling on her knees. 'Look here, dear 
father,' she says, 'look at me: I am thy loving 
daughter.' The father recognizes her and says: 
'It is not for thee but for me to beg thy pardon 
on my knees for all my sins towards thee.' 

Is there anything approaching this charming 
scene in Shakespeare's drama? 

Strange as the opinion may appear to Shake- 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 345 

speare's devotees, the whole of this older play is 
in all respects beyond compare better than Shake- 
speare's adaptation. It is so, first because in it 
those superfluous characters the villain Edmund 
and the unnatural Gloucester and Edgar, who only 
distract one's attention do not appear. Secondly, 
it is free from the perfectly false 'effects' of Lear's 
roaming about on the heath, his talks with the fool, 
and all those impossible disguises, non-recognitions, 
and wholesale deaths above all because in this 
play there is the simple, natural, and deeply touch- 
ing character of Leir, and the yet more touching 
and clearly defined character of Cordelia, which 
are lacking in Shakespeare. And also because in 
the older drama, instead of Shakespeare's daubed 
scene of Lear's meeting with Cordelia and her 
unnecessary murder, there is the exquisite scene 
of Leir's meeting with Cordelia, which is un- 
equalled by anything in Shakespeare's drama. 

The older play also terminates more naturally 
and more in accord with the spectators' moral 
demands than does Shakespeare's, namely, by 
the King of the Gauls conquering the husbands 
of the elder sisters, and Cordelia not perishing, 
but replacing Leir in his former position. 

This is the position as regards the drama we are 
examining, borrowed from the old play King Leir. 

It is the same with Othello, which is taken from 
an Italian story, and it is the same again with the 
famous Hamlet. The same may be said of Antony, 
Brutus, Cleopatra, Shylock, Richard, and all 
Shakespeare's characters; they are all taken from 
antecedent works. Shakespeare, taking the char- 
acters already given in previous plays, stories, 
chronicles, or in Plutarch's Lives, not only fails to 
make them more true to life and more vivid as 
his adulators assert, but on the contrary always 



346 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

weakens and often destroys them, as in King Lear: 
making his characters commit actions unnatural 
to them, and making them above all talk in a way 
natural neither to them nor to any human being. 
So in Othello, though this is we will not say the 
best, but the least bad the least overloaded with 
pompous verbosity, of all Shakespeare's dramas, 
the characters of Othello, lago, Cassio, and Emilia 
are far less natural and alive in Shakespeare than 
in the Italian romance. In Shakespeare Othello 
suffers from epilepsy, of which he has an attack on 
the stage. Afterwards in Shakespeare the murder 
of Desdemona is preceded by a strange vow 
uttered by Othello on his knees, and besides this, 
Othello in Shakespeare's play is a negro and not 
a Moor. All this is unusual, inflated, unnatural, 
and infringes the unity of the character. And there 
is none of all this in the romance. In the romance 
also the causes of Othello's jealousy are more 
naturally presented than in Shakespeare. In the 
romance Cassio, knowing whose the handkerchief 
is, goes to Desdemona to return it, but when 
approaching the back door of Desdemona's house 
he sees Othello coming and runs away from him. 
Othello perceives Gassio running away, and this 
it is that chiefly confirms his suspicion. This is 
omitted in Shakespeare, and yet this casual incident 
explains Othello's jealousy more than anything 
else. In Shakespeare this jealousy is based entirely 
on lago's machinations, which are always success- 
ful, and on his crafty speeches, which Othello 
blindly believes. Othello's monologue over the 
sleeping Desdemona, to the effect that he wishes 
that she when killed should look as she is when 
alive, and that he will love her when she is dead 
and now wishes to inhale her 'balmy breath' and 
so forth, is quite impossible. A man who is pre- 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 347 

paring to murder someone he loves cannot utter 
such phrases, and still less after the murder can he 
say that the sun and the moon ought now to be 
eclipsed and the globe to yawn, nor can he, what- 
ever kind of a nigger he may be, address devils, 
inviting them to roast him in sulphur, and so 
forth. And finally, however effective may be his 
suicide (which does not occur in the romance) it 
quite destroys the conception of his firm character. 
If he really suffers from grief and remorse then, 
when intending to kill himself, he would not utter 
phrases about his own services, about a pearl, 
about his eyes dropping tears ' as fast as the Arabian 
trees their medicinable gum\ and still less could he 
talk about the way a Turk scolded a Venetian, and 
how 'thus' he punished him for it! So that despite 
the powerful movement of feeling in Othello, when 
under the influence of lago's hints jealousy rises 
in him, and afterwards in his scene with Desde- 
mona, our conception of his character is constantly 
infringed by false pathos and by the unnatural 
speeches he utters. 

So it is with the chief character Othello. But 
notwithstanding the disadvantageous alterations he 
has undergone in comparison with the character 
from which he is taken in the romance, Othello 
still remains a character. But all the other per- 
sonages have been quite spoilt by Shakespeare. 

lago in Shakespeare's play is a complete villain, a 
deceiver, a thief, and avaricious; he robs Roderigo, 
succeeds in all sorts of impossible designs, and is 
therefore a quite unreal person. In Shakespeare 
the motive of his villainy is, first, that he is offended 
at Othello not having given him a place he desired ; 
secondly, that he suspects Othello of an intrigue 
with his wife; and thirdly that, as he says, he feels 
a strange sort of love for Desdemona. There are 



348 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

many motives, but they are all vague. In the 
romance there is one motive, and it is simple and 
clear: lago's passionate love for Desdemona, 
changing into hatred of her and of Othello after 
she had preferred the Moor to him and had 
definitely repulsed him. Yet more unnatural is 
the quite unnecessary figure of Roderigo, whom 
lago deceives and robs, promising him Desde- 
mona' s love and obliging him to do as he is ordered : 
make Cassio drunk, provoke him, and then kill 
him. Emilia, who utters anything it occurs to the 
author to put into her mouth, bears not even the 
slightest resemblance to a real person. 

'But Falstaff, the wonderful Falstaff!' Shake- 
speare's eulogists will say. 'It is impossible to 
assert that he is not a live person, and that, having 
been taken out of an anonymous comedy, he has 
been weakened.' 

FalstafF, like all Shakespeare's characters, was 
taken from a play by an unknown author, written 
about a real person, a Sir John Oldcastle who was 
the friend of some Duke. This Oldcastle had once 
been accused of heresy and had been saved by his 
friend the Duke, but was afterwards condemned 
and burnt at the stake for his religious beliefs, 
which clashed with Catholicism. To please the 
Roman Catholic public an unknown author wrote 
a play about Oldcastle, ridiculing this martyr for 
his faith and exhibiting him as a worthless man, 
a boon companion of the Duke's, and from this 
play Shakespeare took not only the character of 
Falstaff but also his own humorous attitude to- 
wards him. In the first plays of Shakespeare's in 
which this character appears he was called Old- 
castle; but afterwards, when under Elizabeth 
Protestantism had again triumphed, it was awk- 
ward to mock at this martyr of the struggle with 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 349 

Catholicism, and besides, Oldcastle's relatives had 
protested, and Shakespeare changed the name 
from Oldcastle to FalstafF also an historical 
character, notorious for having run away at the 
battle of Agincourt. 

Falstaff is really a thoroughly natural and 
characteristic personage, almost the only natural 
and characteristic one depicted by Shakespeare. 
And he is natural and characteristic because, of 
all Shakespeare's characters, he alone speaks in 
a way proper to himself. He speaks in a manner 
proper to himself because he talks just that Shake- 
spearian language, filled with jests that lack 
humour and unamusing puns, which while un- 
natural to all Shakespeare's other characters is 
quite in harmony with the boastful, distorted, per- 
verted character of the drunken Falstaff. That is 
the only reason why this figure really presents a 
definite character. Unfortunately the artistic effect 
of the character is spoilt by the fact that it is so 
repulsive in its gluttony, drunkenness, debauchery, 
rascality, mendacity, and cowardice, that it is diffi- 
cult to share the feeling of merry humour Shake- 
speare adopts towards it. Such is the case with 
Falstaff. 

But in none of Shakespeare's figures is, I will 
not say his inability but his complete indifference, 
to giving his people characters, so strikingly 
noticeable as in the case of Hamlet, and with no 
other of Shakespeare's works is the blind worship 
of Shakespeare so strikingly noticeable that un- 
reasoning hypnotism which does not even admit 
the thought that any production of his can be other 
than a work of genius, or that any leading character 
in a drama of his can fail to be the expression of 
a new and profoundly conceived character. 

Shakespeare takes the ancient story not at all 



350 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

bad of its kind relating: avec quelle ruse Amlet qui 
depuis fut Roy de Dannemarch, vengea la mort de son 
plre Horwendille, occis par Fengon, son frere, et autre 
occurrence de son histoire, or a drama that was written 
on the same theme fifteen years before him; and 
he writes his play on this subject introducing in- 
appropriately (as he constantly does) into the 
mouth of the chief character all such thoughts of 
his own as seem to him worthy of attention. 
Putting these thoughts into his hero's mouth 
about life (the grave-diggers) ; about death ('To 
be or not to be'); those he had expressed in his 
sixty-sixth sonnet about the theatre and about 
women he did not at all concern himself as to the 
circumstances under which these speeches were 
to be delivered, and it naturally results that the 
person uttering these various thoughts becomes 
a mere phonograph of Shakespeare, deprived 
of any character of his own; and his actions and 
words do not agree. 

In the legend Hamlet's personality is quite 
intelligible: he is revolted by the conduct of his 
uncle and his mother, wishes to be revenged on 
them, but fears that his uncle may kill him as he 
had killed his father, and therefore pretends to be 
mad, wishing to wait and observe all that was 
going on at court. But his uncle and his mother, 
being afraid of him, wish to find out whether he is 
feigning or is really mad, and send a girl he loves 
to him. He keeps up his role and afterwards sees 
his mother alone, kills a courtier who was eaves- 
dropping, and convicts his mother of her sin. 
Then he is sent to England. He intercepts letters, 
returns from England, and revenges himself on his 
enemies, burning them all. 

This is all intelligible and flows from Hamlet's 
character and position. But Shakespeare, by 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 351 

putting into Hamlet's mouth speeches he wished 
to publish, and making him perform actions 
needed to secure effective scenes, destroys all that 
forms Hamlet's character in the legend. Through- 
out the whole tragedy Hamlet does not do what he 
might wish to do, but what is needed for the author's 
plans: now he is frightened by his father's ghost 
and now he begins to chaff it, calling it 'old mole'; 
now he loves Ophelia, now he teases her, and so on. 
There is no possibility of finding any explanation 
of Hamlet's actions and speeches, and therefore 
no possibility of attributing any character to him. 

But as it is accepted that Shakespeare, the genius, 
could write nothing bad, learned men devote all 
the power of their minds to discovering extra- 
ordinary beauties in what is an obvious and glaring 
defect particularly obvious in Hamlet namely, 
that the chief person in the play has no character 
at all. And, lo and behold, profound critics an- 
nounce that in this drama, in the person of Hamlet, 
a perfectly new and profound character is most 
powerfully presented: consisting in this, that the 
person has no character; and that in this absence 
of character lies an achievement of genius the 
creation of a profound character! And having 
decided this, the learned critics write volumes upon 
volumes, until the laudations and explanations of 
the grandeur and importance of depicting the 
character of a man without a character fill whole 
libraries. It is true that some critics timidly express 
the thought that there is something strange about 
this person, and that Hamlet is an unsolved riddle ; 
but no one ventures to say, as in Hans Andersen's 
story, that the king is naked; that it is clear as day 
that Shakespeare was unable, and did not even 
wish, to give Hamlet any character and did not 
even understand that this was necessary! And 



352 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

learned critics continue to study and praise this 
enigmatical production, which reminds one of the 
famous inscribed stone found by Pickwick at a 
cottage doorstep which divided the scientific 
world into two hostile camps. 

So that neither the character of Lear, nor of 
Othello, nor of Falstaff, and still less of Hamlet, 
at all confirms the existing opinion that Shake- 
speare's strength lies in the delineation of character. 

If in Shakespeare's plays some figures are met 
with that have characteristic traits (mostly secon- 
dary figures such as Polonius in Hamlet, and Portia 
in The Merchant of Venice] , these few life-like figures 
among the five hundred or more secondary 
figures, and with the complete absence of character 
in the principal figures are far from proving that 
the excellence of Shakespeare's dramas lies in the 
presentation of character. 

That a great mastery in the presentation of 
character is attributed to Shakespeare arises from 
his really possessing a peculiarity which when 
helped out by the play of good actors may appear 
to superficial observers to be a capacity to manage 
scenes in which a movement of feeling is expressed. 
However arbitrary the positions in which he puts 
his characters, however unnatural to them the 
language he makes them speak, however lacking in 
individuality they may be, the movement of feeling 
itself, its increase and change and the combination 
of many contrary feelings, are often expressed 
correctly and powerfully in some of Shakespeare's 
scenes^ And this when performed by good actors 
evokes, if but for a while, sympathy for the persons 
represented. 

Shakespeare, himself an actor and a clever man, 
knew not only by speeches, but by exclamations, 
gestures, and the repetition of words, how to 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 353 

express the state of mind and changes of feeling 
occurring in the persons represented. So that in 
many places Shakespeare's characters instead of 
speaking, merely exclaim, or weep, or in the midst 
of a monologue indicate the pain of their position 
by gesture (as when Lear asks to have a button 
undone), or at a moment of strong excitement they 
repeat a question several times and cause a word 
to be repeated which strikes them, as is done by 
Othello, Macduff, Cleopatra, and others. Similar 
clever methods of expressing a movement of 
feeling giving good actors a chance to show their 
powers have often been taken by many critics 
for the expression of character. But however 
strongly the play of feeling may be expressed in one 
scene, a single scene cannot give the character of 
a person when after the appropriate exclamations 
or gesture that person begins to talk lengthily not 
in a natural manner proper to him but according 
to the author's whim saying things unnecessary 
and not in harmony with his character. 

V 

'Well, but the profound utterances and sayings 
delivered by Shakespeare's characters?' Shake- 
speare's eulogists will exclaim. 'Lear's monologue 
on punishment, Kent's on vengeance, Edgar's on 
his former life, Gloucester's reflections on the per- 
versity of fate, and in other dramas the famous 
monologues of Hamlet, Antony, and others?' 

Thoughts and sayings may be appreciated, I 
reply, in prose works, in essays, in collections of 
aphorisms, but not in artistic dramatic works the 
aim of which is to elicit sympathy with what is 
represented. And therefore the monologues and 
sayings of Shakespeare even if they contained many 
very profound and fresh thoughts, which is not 

459 



354 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAVA 

the case, cannot constitute the excellence of an 
artistic and poetic work. On the contrary, these 
speeches, uttered in unnatural conditions, can only 
spoil artistic works. 

An artistic poetic work, especially a drama, 
should first of all evoke in reader or spectator the 
illusion that what the persons represented are 
living through and experiencing is being lived 
through and experienced by himself. And for this 
purpose it is not more important for the dramatist 
to know precisely what he should make his acting 
characters do and say, than it is to know what he 
should not make them do and say, so as not to 
infringe the reader's or spectator's illusion. How- 
ever eloquent and profound they may be, speeches 
put into the mouths of acting characters, if they 
are superfluous and do not accord with the situa- 
tion and the characters, infringe the main condi- 
tion of dramatic work the illusion causing the 
reader or spectator to experience the feelings of the 
persons represented. One may without infringing 
the illusion leave much unsaid: the reader or 
spectator will himself supply what is needed, and 
sometimes as a result of this his illusion is even 
increased; but to say what is superfluous is like 
jerking and scattering a statue made up of small 
pieces, or taking the lamp out of a magic lantern. 
The reader's or spectator's attention is distracted, 
the reader sees the author, the spectator sees the 
actor, the illusion is lost, and to recreate it is some- 
times impossible. And therefore without a sense 
of proportion there cannot be an artist, especially 
a dramatist. And Shakespeare is entirely devoid of 
this feeling. 

Shakespeare's characters continually do and say 
what is not merely unnatural to them but quite 
unnecessary. I will not cite examples of this, for 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA ^55 

I think that a man who does not himself perceive this 
striking defect in all Shakespeare's dramas will not 
be convinced by any possible examples or proofs. 
It is sufficient to read King Lear alone, with the 
madness, the murders, the plucking out of eyes, 
Gloucester's jump, the poisonings, and the tor- 
rents of abuse not to mention Pericles, A Winter's 
Tale, or The Tempest to convince oneself of this. 
Only a man quite devoid of the sense of proportion 
and taste could produce the types of Titus Androni- 
cus and Troilus and Cressida, and so pitilessly distort 
the old drama of King Leir. 

Gervinus tries to prove that Shakespeare possessed 
a feeling of beauty, Schonheitssinn, but all Ger- 
vinus's proofs only show that he himself, Gervinus, 
completely lacked it. In Shakespeare everything 
is exaggerated: the actions are exaggerated, so are 
their consequences, the speeches of the characters 
are exaggerated, and therefore at every step the 
possibility of artistic impression is infringed. 

Whatever people may say, however they may 
be enraptured by Shakespeare's works, whatever 
merits they may attribute to them, it is certain that 
he was not an artist and that his works are not 
artistic productions. Without a sense of proportion 
there never was or could be an artist, just as with- 
out a sense of rhythm there cannot be a musician. 

And Shakespeare may be anything you like only 

.not an artist. 

'But one must not forget the times in which 
Shakespeare wrote,' say his laudators. 'It was a 
time of cruel and coarse manners, a time of the 
then fashionable euphuism, that is, an artificial 
manner of speech a time of forms of life strange 
to us, and therefore to judge Shakespeare one must 
keep in view the times when he wrote. In Homer, 
as in Shakespeare, there is much that is strange 



356 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

to us, but this does not prevent our valuing the 
beauties of Homer,' say the laudators. But when 
one compares Shakespeare with Homer, as Ger- 
vinus does, the infinite distance separating true 
poetry from its imitation emerges with special 
vividness. However distant Homer is from us we 
can without the slightest effort transport ourselves 
into the life he describes. And we are thus trans- 
ported chiefly because, however alien to us may 
be the events Homer describes, he believes in what 
he says and speaks seriously of what he is describing, 
and therefore he never exaggerates and the sense 
of measure never deserts him. And therefore it 
happens that, not to speak of the wonderfully dis- 
tinct, life-like, and excellent characters of Achilles, 
Hector, Priam, Odysseus, and the eternally touch- 
ing scenes of Hector's farewell, of Priam's embassy, 
of the return of Odysseus, and so forth, the whole 
of the Iliad and still more the Odyssey, is as naturally 
close to us all as if we had lived and were now living 
among the gods and heroes. But it is not so with 
Shakespeare. From his first words exaggeration 
is seen: exaggeration of events, exaggeration of 
feeling, and exaggeration of expression. It is at 
once evident that he does not believe in what he is 
saying, that he has no need to say it, that he is 
inventing the occurrences he describes, is indiffer- 
ent to his characters and has devised them merely 
for the stage, and therefore makes them do and 
say what may strike his public; and so we do not 
believe either in the events or in the actions, or in 
the sufferings of his characters. Nothing so clearly 
shows the complete absence of aesthetic feeling in 
Shakespeare as a comparison between him and 
Homer. The works which we call the works of 
Homer are artistic, poetic, original works, lived 
through by their author or authors. 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 357 

But Shakespeare's works are compositions de- 
vised for a particular purpose, and having absolutely 
nothing in common with art or poetry. 

VI 

But perhaps the loftiness of Shakespeare's con- 
ception of life is such that, even though he does not 
satisfy the demands of aesthetics, he discloses to us 
so new and important a view of life that in con- 
sideration of its value all his artistic defects become 
unnoticeable. This is indeed what some laudators 
of Shakespeare say. Gervinus plainly says that 
besides Shakespeare's significance in the sphere of 
dramatic poetry, in which in his opinion he is the 
equal of 'Homer in the sphere of the epic ; Shake- 
speare, being the greatest judge of the human soul, 
is a teacher of most indisputable ethical authority, 
and the most select leader in the world and in life'. 

In what then does this indubitable authority of 
the most select teacher in the world and in life 
consist? Gervinus devotes the concluding chapter 
of his second volume (some fifty pages) to an 
explanation of this. 

The ethical authority of this supreme teacher of 
life, in the opinion of Gervinus, consists in this: 
'Shakespeare's moral view starts from the simple 
point that man is born with powers of activity,' 
and therefore, first of all, says Gervinus, Shake- 
speare regarded it as 'an obligation to use our 
inherent power of action'. (As if it were possible 
for man not to act!) 1 

'Die tatkrafiigen Manner, Fortinbras, Bolingbrokc, 
Alcibiades, Octavius spielen hier die gegensdtzlichen 
Rollen gegen die verschiedenen Tatlosen; nicht ihre 

k This and the quotations in English that follow are taken 
from Shakespeare's Commentaries, by Dr. G. G. Gervinus, 
translated by F. G. Bennett, London, 1877. L. T. 



358 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

Charaktere verdienen ihnen alien ihr Gluck und Gedeihen 
etwa durch eine grosse Ueberlegenheit ihie Natur, sondern 
trotz ihrer geringern Anlage stellt nch ihre Tatkraft an 
sich uber die Untatigkeit der Anderen hinaus, gleichviel 
aus wie schbner Quelle diese Passivitat, aus wie schlechter 
jene Tatigkeit fliesse . " * 

That is to say, Gervinus informs us, that active 
people like Fortinbras, Bolingbroke, Alcibiades, 
and Octavius are contrasted by Shakespeare with 
various characters who do not display energetic 
activity. And, according to Shakespeare, happiness 
and success are attained by people who possess this 
active character, not at all as a result of their 
superiority of nature. On the contrary, in spite of 
their inferior talents their energy in itself always 
gives them the advantage over the inactive people, 
regardless of whether their inactivity results from 
excellent impulses, or the activity of the others from 
base ones. Activity is good, inactivity is evil. 
Activity transforms evil into good, says Shake- 
speare, according to Gervinus. 'Shakespeare pre- 
fers the principle of Alexander to that of Diogenes, 5 
says Gervinus. In other v v ords, according to him, 
Shakespeare prefers death and murder from ambi- 
tion, to self-restraint and wisdom. 2 

According to Gervinus, Shakespeare considers 
that humanity should not set itself ideals, but that 
all that is necessary is healthy activity, and a golden 
mean in everything. Indeed Shakespeare is so 
imbued with this wise moderation that, in the 
words of Gervinus, he even allows himself to deny 
Christian morality which makes exaggerated de- 

1 Shakespeare, von G. G. Gervinus, Leipzig, 1872, vol. ii, 
PP- 550-1- L. T. 

2 Tolstoy's essay Non-Acting deals with a controversy that 
occurred in 1893 between Zola and Dumas. In it Tohtoy 
controverts the opinion that activity in itself, lacking moral 
guidance, is beneficial. A. M. 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 359 

mands on human nature. 'How thoroughly pene- 
trated Shakespeare was with this principle of wise 
moderation', says Gervinus, 'is shown perhaps most 
strongly in this, that he ventured even to oppose 
Christian laws which demand an overstraining of 
human nature; for he did not approve of the limits 
of duty being extended beyond the intention of 
nature. He taught therefore the wise and human 
medium between the Christian and heathen pre- 
cepts' (p. 917) a reasonable mean, natural to 
man, between Christian and pagan injunctions 
on the one hand love of one's enemies, and on the 
other hatred of them ! 

'That it is possible to do too much in good things 
is an express doctrine of Shakespeare, both in 
word and example. . . . Thus excessive liberality 
ruins Timon, whilst moderate generosity keeps 
Antonio in honour; the genuine ambition which 
makes Henry V great overthrows Percy, in whom 
it rises too high. Exaggerated virtue brings Angelo 
to ruin; and when in those near him the excess 
of punishment proves harmful and cannot hinder 
sin, then mercy, the most Godlike gift that man 
possesses, is also exhibited in its excess as the 
producer of sin.' 

Shakespeare, says Gervinus, taught that one may 
do too much good. 'He teaches', says Gervinus, 'that 
morality, like politics, is a matter so complicated 
with relations, conditions of life, and motives, that 
it is impossible to bring it to final principles 9 
(p. 918). 

'In Shakespeare's opinion (and here also he is 
one with Bacon and Aristotle) there is no positive 
law of religion or morals which could form a rule 
of moral action in precepts ever binding and 
suitable for all cases.' 

Gervinus most clearly expresses Shakespeare's 



360 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

whole moral theory by saying that Shakespeare 
does not write for those classes for whom definite 
religious principles and laws are suitable (that is 
to say, for nine hundred and ninety-nine people 
out of every thousand), but for the cultivated, who 
have made their own a healthy tact in life and such 
an instinctive feeling as, united with conscience, 
reason, and will, can direct them to worthy aims 
of life. But even for these fortunate ones, this 
teaching may be dangerous if it is taken incom- 
pletely. It must be taken whole. 'There are classes', 
says Gervinus, 'whose morality is best provided for 
by the positive letter of religion and law ; but for 
such as these Shakespeare's writings are in them- 
selves inaccessible; they are only readable and 
comprehensible to the cultivated, of whom it can 
be required that they should appropriate to them- 
selves the healthy measure of life, and that self- 
reliance in which the guiding and inherent powers 
of conscience and reason, united with the will, are, 
when consciously apprehended, worthy aims of 
life' (p. 919). 'But even for the cultivated also, 
Shakespeare's doctrine may not always be without 
danger. . . . The condition on which his doctrine 
is entirely harmless is this, that it should be fully 
and completely received and without any ex- 
purging and separating. Then it is not only without 
danger, but it is also more unmistakable and more 
infallible, and therefore more worthy of our confi- 
dence, than any system of morality can be.' (p. 919.) 
And in order to accept it all, one should under- 
stand that according to his teaching it is insane 
and harmful for an individual to rise against or 
'disregard the bonds of religion and the state' 
(p. 92 1 ) . For Shakespeare would abhor a free and 
independent personality who strong in spirit should 
oppose any law in politics or morals and should 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 361 

disregard the union of the state and religion 'which 
has kept society together for centuries' (p. 921). 
'For in his opinion the practical wisdom of man 
should have no higher aim than to carry into 
society the utmost possible nature and freedom, 
but for that very reason, and that he might main- 
tain sacred and inviolable the natural laws of 
society, he would respect existing forms, yet at the 
same time penetrate into their rational substance 
with sound criticism, not forgetting nature in 
civilization, nor, equally, civilization in nature.' 
Property, the family, the state, are sacred. But 
the aspiration to recognize the equality of man is 
insane. 'Its realization would bring the greatest 
harm to humanity' (p. 925). 

'No man has fought more strongly against rank 
and class prejudices than Shakespeare, but how 
could his liberal principles have been pleased with 
the doctrines of those who would have done away 
with the prejudices of the rich and cultivated only 
to replace them by the interests and prejudices of 
the poor and uncultivated? How would this man, 
who draws us so eloquently to the course of honour, 
have approved, if in annulling rank, degrees of 
merit, distinction, we extinguish every impulse to 
greatness, and by the removal of all degrees, "shake 
the ladder to all high designs"? If indeed no 
surreptitious honour and false power were longer 
to oppress mankind, how would the poet have 
acknowledged the most fearful force of all, the 
power of barbarity? In consequence of these 
modern doctrines of equality he would have appre- 
hended that everything would resolve itself into 
power; or if this were not the final lot which 
awaited mankind from these aspirations after 
equality, if love between nationalities, and endless 
peace, were not that "nothing" of impossibility, as 



362 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

Alonso expresses it in the Tempest, but could be 
an actual fruit of these efforts after equality, then 
the poet would have believed that with this time 
the old age and decrepitude of the world had 
arrived, in which it were worthless for the active 
to live' (p. 925). 

Such is Shakespeare's view of life as explained 
by his greatest exponent and admirer. Another 
of the recent laudators of Shakespeare, Brandes, 
adds the following : 

'No one, of course, can preserve his life quite 
pure from injustice, from deception, and from 
doing harm to others, but injustice and deception 
are not always vices and even the harm done to 
other people is not always a vice: it is often only 
a necessity, a legitimate weapon, a right. At 
bottom, Shakespeare had always held that there 
were no such things as unconditional duties and 
absolute prohibitions. He had never, for example, 
questioned Hamlet's right to kill the King, scarcely 
even his right to run his sword through Polonius. 
Nevertheless he had hitherto been unable to con- 
quer a feeling of indignation and disgust when he 
saw around him nothing but breaches of the 
simplest moral laws. Now, on the other hand, the 
dim divinations of his earlier years crystallized in 
his mind into a coherent body of thought: no 
commandment is unconditional; it is not in the 
observance or non-observance of an external fiat 
that the merits of an action, to say nothing of 
a character, consists : everything depends upon the 
volitional substance into which the individual, as 
a responsible agent, transmits the formal imperative 
at the moment of decision.' 1 

1 William Shakespeare, by Georges Brandes, translated by 
William Archer and Miss Morison, London, 1898, p. 921. 
L. T. 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 363 

In other words Shakespeare now sees clearly that 
the morality of the aim is the only true, the only 
possible one; so that, according to Brandes, Shake- 
speare's fundamental principle, for which he is 
extolled, is that the end justifies the means. Action at 
all costs, the absence of all ideals, moderation in 
everything, the maintenance of established forms 
of life, and the maxim that 'the end justifies the 
means'. 

If one adds to this a Chauvinistic English 
patriotism, expressed in all his historical plays: a 
patriotism according to which the English throne 
is something sacred, the English always defeat the 
French, slaughtering thousands and losing only 
scores, Jeanne d'Arc is a witch, Hector and all the 
Trojans from whom the English are descended 
are heroes, while the Greeks are cowards and 
traitors, and so forth : this is the view of life of the 
wisest teacher of life according to his greatest 
admirer. And anyone who reads attentively the 
works of Shakespeare cannot but acknowledge that 
the attribution of this view of life to Shakespeare 
by those who praise him is perfectly correct. 

The value of every poetical work depends on 
three qualities: 

1. The content of the work: the more important 
the content, that is to say the more important it is 
for the life of man, the greater is the work. 

2. The external beauty achieved by the technical 
methods proper to the particular kind of art. Thus 
in dramatic art the technical method will be: that 
the characters should have a true individuality of 
their own, a natural and at the same time a touch- 
ing plot, a correct presentation on the stage of 
the manifestation and development of feelings, and 
a sense of proportion in all that is presented. 

3. Sincerity, that is to say that the author should 



364 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

himself vividly feel what he expresses. Without this 
condition there can be no work of art, as the 
essence of art consists in the infection of the con- 
templator of a work by the author's feeling. If 
the author has not felt what he is expressing, the 
recipient cannot become infected by the author's 
feeling, he does not experience any feeling, and 
the production cannot be classed as a work of art. 

The content of Shakespeare's plays, as is seen by 
the explanations of his greatest admirers, is the 
lowest, most vulgar view of life which regards the 
external elevation of the great ones of the earth 
as a genuine superiority; despises the crowd, that 
is to say, the working classes; and repudiates not 
only religious, but even any humanitarian, efforts 
directed towards the alteration of the existing order 
of society. 

The second condition is also absent in Shake- 
speare except in his handling of scenes in which a 
movement of feelings is expressed. There is in his 
works a lack of naturalness in the situations, the 
characters lack individuality of speech, and a sense 
of proportion is also wanting, without which such 
works cannot be artistic. 

The third and chief condition sincerity is 
totally absent in all Shakespeare's works. One sees 
in all of them an intentional artificiality; it is 
obvious that he is not in earnest but is playing 
with words. 

VII 

The works of Shakespeare do not meet the de- 
mands of every art, and, besides that, their tendency 
is very low and immoral. What then is the meaning 
of the immense fame these works have enjoyed for 
more than a hundred years? 

To reply to this question seems the more difficult, 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 365 

because if the works of Shakespeare had any kind 
of excellence the achievement which has produced 
the exaggerated praise lavished upon them would 
be at least to some extent intelligible. But here 
two extremes meet : works which are beneath criti- 
cism, insignificant, empty, and immoral meet in- 
sensate, universal laudation, that proclaims these 
works to be above everything that has ever been 
produced by man. 

How is this to be explained? 

Many times during rny life I have had occasion 
to discuss Shakespeare with his admirers, not only 
with people little sensitive to poetry but also with 
those who felt poetic beauty keenly, such as Tur- 
genev, Fct, 1 and others, and each time I have 
encountered one and the same attitude towards my 
disagreement with the laudation of Shakespeare. 

I was not answered when I pointed out Shake- 
speare's defects; they only pitied me for my want 
of comprehension and urged on me the necessity 
of acknowledging the extraordinary supernatural 
grandeur of Shakespeare. They did not explain 
to me in what the beauties of Shakespeare consist, 
but were merely indefinitely and exaggeratedly 
enthusiastic about the whole of Shakespeare, ex- 
tolling some favourite passages: the undoing of 
Lear's button, FalstafFs lying, Lady Macbeth's 
spot which would not wash out, Hamlet's address 
to the ghost of his father, the 'forty thousand 
brothers', 'none does offend, none, I say none', and 
so forth. 

'Open Shakespeare', I used to say to these 
admirers of his, 'where you will or as may chance, 
and you will see that you will never find ten con- 
secutive lines that are comprehensible, natural, 

1 A Russian poet of much delicacy of feeling, for many years 
a great friend of Tolst6y's. A. M. 



366 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

characteristic of the person who utters them, and 
productive of an artistic impression.' (Anyone may 
make this experiment.) And the laudators of 
Shakespeare opened pages in Shakespeare's dramas 
by chance, or at their own choice, and without 
paying any attention to the reasons I adduced as 
to why the ten lines selected did not meet the most 
elementary demands of aesthetics or good sense, 
praised the very things that appeared to me 
absurd, unintelligible, and inartistic. 

So that in general in response to my endeavours 
to obtain from the worshippers of Shakespeare an 
explanation of his greatness, I encountered pre- 
cisely the attitude I have usually met with, and 
still meet with, from the defenders of any dogmas 
accepted not on the basis of reason but on mere 
credulity. And it was just this attitude of the 
laudators of Shakespeare an attitude which may 
be met with in all the indefinite, misty articles about 
him, and in conversations that gave me the key 
to an understanding of the cause of Shakespeare's 
fame. There is only one explanation of this 
astonishing phenomenon: it is one of those epi- 
demic suggestions to which people always have 
been, and are, liable. Such irrational suggestion 
has always existed, and still exists in all spheres 
of life. The medieval Crusades, which influenced 
not only adults but children, are glaring examples 
of such suggestion, considerable in scope and 
deceptiveness, and there have been many other 
epidemic suggestions astonishing in their senseless- 
ness, such as the belief in witches, in the utility of 
torture for the discovery of truth, the search for 
the elixir of life, for the philosopher's stone, and 
the passion for tulips valued at several thousand 
guilders a bulb, which overran Holland. There 
always have been and always are such irrational 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 367 

suggestions in all spheres of human life religious, 
philosophic, economic, scientific, artistic, and in 
literature generally, and people only see clearly 
the insanity of such suggestions after they are freed 
from them. But as long as they are under their 
influence these suggestions appear to them such 
indubitable truths that they do not consider it 
necessary or possible to reason about them. Since 
the development of the printing-press these epi- 
demics have become particularly striking. 

Since the development of the press it has come 
about that as soon as something obtains a special 
significance from accidental circumstances, the 
organs of the press immediately announce this 
significance. And as soon as the press has put 
forward the importance of the matter, the public 
directs yet more attention to it. The hypnotiza- 
tion of the public incites the press to regard the 
thing more attentively and in greater detail. The 
interest of the public is still further increased, and 
the organs of the press, competing one with another, 
respond to the public demand. 

The public becomes yet more interested, and the 
press attributes yet more importance to the matter; 
so that this importance, growing ever greater and 
greater like a snowball, obtains a quite unnatural 
appreciation, and this appreciation, exaggerated 
even to absurdity, maintains itself as long as the 
outlook on life of the leaders of the press and of 
the public remains the same. There are in our day 
innumerable examples of such a misunderstanding 
of the importance of the most insignificant occur- 
rences, occasioned by the mutual reaction of press 
and public. A striking example of this was the 
excitement which seized the whole world over the 
Dreyfus affair. A suspicion arose that some captain 
on the French staff had been guilty of treason. 



3 68 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

Whether because this captain was a Jew, or from 
some special internal party disagreements in French 
society, this event, which resembled others that 
continually occur without arousing anyone's atten- 
tion and without interesting the whole world or 
even the French military, was given a somewhat 
prominent position by the press. The public paid 
attention to it. The organs of the press, vying with 
one another, began to describe, to analyse, to 
discuss the event, the public became yet more 
interested, the press responded to the demands of 
the public and the snowball began to grow and 
grow, and grew before our eyes to such an extent 
that there was not a family which had not its dis- 
putes about Vaffain\ So that Caran d'Ache's cari- 
cature, which depicted first a peaceful family that 
had decided not to discuss the Dreyfus affair any 
more, and then the same family represented as 
angry furies fighting one another, quite correctly 
depicted the relation of the whole reading world 
to the Dreyfus question. Men of other nationalities 
who could not have any real interest in the question 
whether a French officer had or had not been a 
traitor men moreover who could not know how 
the affair was going all divided for or against 
Dreyfus, some asserting his guilt with assurance, 
others denying it with equal certainty. 

It was only after some years that people began 
to awaken from the 'suggestion' and to understand 
that they could not possibly know whether he was 
guilty or innocent, and that each one of them had 
a thousand matters nearer and more interesting 
to him than the Dreyfus affair. Such infatuations 
occur in all spheres, but they are specially notice- 
able in the sphere of literature, for the press naturally 
occupies itself most of all with the affairs of the 
press, and these are particularly powerful in our 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 369 

day when the press has obtained such an unnatural 
development. It continually happens that people 
suddenly begin to devote exaggerated praise to 
some very insignificant works, and then, if these 
works do not correspond to the prevailing view 
of life, suddenly become perfectly indifferent to 
them and forget both the works themselves and 
their own previous attitude towards them. 

So within my recollection, in the eighteen-forties, 
there occurred in the artistic sphere the exaltation 
and laudation of Eugene Sue and George Sand; 
in the social sphere, of Fourier; in the philosophic 
sphere, of Comte and Hegel; and in the scientific 
sphere, of Darwin. 

Sue is quite forgotten, George Sand is being 
forgotten and replaced by the writings of Zola 
and the Decadents Baudelaire, Verlainc, Maeter- 
linck and others. Fourier, with his phalansteries, 
is quite forgotten, and has been replaced by Karl 
Marx. Hegel, who justified the existing order, and 
Comte, who denied the necessity of religious 
activity in humanity, and Darwin, with his law of 
struggle for existence, still maintain their places, 
but are beginning to be neglected and replaced by 
the teachings of Nietzsche, which though perfectly 
absurd, unthought-out, obscure, and bad in their 
content, correspond better to the present-day out- 
look on life. Thus it sometimes happens that artistic, 
philosophic, and literary crazes in general, arise, 
fall rapidly, and are forgotten. 

But it also happens that such crazes, having 
arisen in consequence of special causes accidently 
favouring their establishment, correspond so well 
to the view of life diffused in society and especially 
in literary circles, that they maintain their place 
tor a very long time. Even in Roman times it 
was remarked that books have their fate, and often 



370 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

a very strange one: failure in spite of high qualities, 
and enormous undeserved success in spite of 
insignificance. And a proverb was made: Pro 
captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli, that is, that the 
fate of books depends on the understanding of 
those who read them. Such was the correspondence 
of Shakespeare's work to the view of life of the 
people among whom his fame arose. And this fame 
has been maintained, and is still maintained, because 
the works of Shakespeare continue to correspond to 
the view of life of those who maintain this fame. 

Until the end of the i8th century Shakespeare not 
only had no particular fame in England, but was 
less esteemed than his contemporaries : Ben Jonson, 
Fletcher, Beaumont, and others. His fame began 
in Germany, and from there passed to England. 
This happened for the following reason : 

Art, especially dramatic art which demands for 
its realization extensive preparations, expenditure, 
and labour, was always religious, that is to say, its 
object was to evoke in man a clearer conception 
of that relation of man to God attained at the time 
by the advanced members of the society in which 
the art was produced. 

So it should be by the nature of the case, and 
so it always had been among all nations: among 
the Egyptians, Hindus, Chinese, and Greeks 
from the earliest time that we have knowledge of 
the life of man. And it has always happened that 
with the coarsening of religious forms art diverged 
more and more from this original aim (which had 
caused it to be recognized as an important matter 
almost an act of worship), and instead of religious 
aims it adopted worldly aims for the satisfaction of 
the demands of the crowd, or of the great ones of 
the earth, that is to say, aims of recreation and 
amusement. 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 371 

This deflexion of art from its true and high 
vocation occurred everywhere, and it occurred in 
Christendom. 

The first manifestation of Christian art was in 
the worship of God in the temples : the performance 
of Mass and, in general, of the liturgy. When in 
course of time the forms of this art of divine wor- 
ship became insufficient, the Mysteries were pro- 
duced, depicting those events regarded as most 
important in the Christian religious view of life. 
Afterwards, when in the I3th and I4th centuries 
the centre of gravity of Christian teaching was 
more and more transferred from the worship of 
Jesus as God, to the explanation of his teaching and 
its fulfilment, the form of the Mysteries, which 
depicted external Christian events, became in- 
sufficient and new forms were demanded; and 
as an expression of this tendency appeared the 
Moralities, dramatic representations in which the 
characters personified the Christian virtues and 
the opposite vices. 

But allegories by their very nature, as art of a 
lower order, could not replace the former religious 
drama, and no new form of dramatic art corre- 
sponding to the conception of Christianity as a 
teaching of life had yet been found. And dramatic 
art, lacking a religious basis, began in all Christian 
countries more and more to deviate from its pur- 
pose, and instead of a service of God became a 
service of the crowd (I mean by 'crowd' not merely 
the common people, but the majority of immoral 
or non-moral people indifferent to the higher 
problems of human life) . This deviation was helped 
on by the fact that just at that time the Greek 
thinkers, poets, and dramatists, with whom the 
Christian world had not hitherto been acquainted, 
were rediscovered and favourably accepted. And 



372 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

therefore, not having yet had time to work out for 
themselves a clear and satisfactory form of drama- 
tic art suitable to the new conception entertained 
of Christianity as a teaching of life, and at the 
same time recognizing the previous Mysteries and 
Moralities as insufficient, the writers of the I5th 
and 1 6th centuries, in their search for a new form, 
began to imitate the newly discovered Greek 
models, which were attractive by their elegance and 
novelty. And as it was chiefly the great ones of the 
earth who could avail themselves of the drama 
the kings, princes, and courtiers the least re- 
ligious people, not merely quite indifferent to ques- 
tions of religion but for the most part thoroughly 
depraved it followed that to satisfy the demands 
of its public the drama of the i5th, i6th, and iyth 
centuries was chiefly a spectacle intended for 
depraved kings and the upper classes. Such was 
the drama of Spain, England, Italy, and France. 

The plays of that time, chiefly composed in all 
these countries according to ancient Greek models, 
from poems, legends, and biographies, naturally 
reflected the national characters. In Italy come- 
dies with amusing scenes and characters were 
chiefly elaborated. In Spain the worldly drama 
flourished, with complicated plots and ancient his- 
torical heroes. The peculiarity of English drama 
was the coarse effect produced by murders, execu- 
tions, and battles on the stage, and popular comic 
interludes. Neither the Italian, nor the Spanish, 
nor the English drama had European fame, and 
each of them enjoyed success only in its own 
country. General fame, thanks to the elegance of 
its language and the talent of its writers, was 
enjoyed only by the French drama, which was dis- 
tinguished by strict adherence to the Greek models, 
and especially to the law of the three Unities. 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 373 

So matters continued till the end of the i8th 
century, but at the end of that century this is 
what happened: in Germany, which lacked even 
mediocre dramatists (though there had been a weak 
and little known writer, Hans Sachs), all educated 
people, including Frederick the Great, bowed 
down before the French pseudo-classical drama. 
And yet at that very time there appeared in Ger- 
many a circle of educated and talented writers 
and poets who, feeling the falsity and coldness of 
the French drama, sought a newer and freer 
dramatic form. The members of this group, like 
all the upper classes of the Christian w r orld at that 
time, w r ere under the charm and influence of the 
Greek classics and, being utterly indifferent to 
religious questions, thought that if the Greek drama 
depicting the calamities, sufferings, and struggles 
of its heroes supplied the best model for the drama, 
then such representation of the sufferings and 
struggles of heroes would also be a sufficient sub- 
ject for drama in the Christian world, if only one 
rejected the narrow demands of pseudo-classicism. 
These men, not understanding that the sufferings 
and strife of their heroes had a religious significance 
for the Greeks, imagined that it was only necessary 
to reject the inconvenient law of the three Unities, 
and the representation of various incidents in the 
lives of historic personages, and of strong human 
passions in general, would afford a sufficient basis 
for the drama without its containing any religious 
element corresponding to the beliefs of their own 
time. Just such a drama existed at that time among 
the kindred English people, and the Germans, 
becoming acquainted with it, decided that just 
such should be the drama of the new period. 

The masterly development of the scenes which 
constitutes Shakespeare's speciality caused them 



374 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

to select Shakespeare's dramas from among all 
other English plays, which were not in the least 
inferior, but often superior, to Shakespeare's. 

At the head of the circle stood Goethe, who was 
then the dictator of public opinion on aesthetic 
questions. And he it was who partly from a wish 
to destroy the fascination of the false French art, 
partly from a wish to give freer scope to his own 
dramatic activity, but chiefly because his view of 
life agreed with Shakespeare's acclaimed Shake- 
speare a great poet. When that falsehood had been 
proclaimed on Goethe's authority, all those aes- 
thetic critics who did not understand art threw 
themselves upon it like crows upon carrion, and 
began to search Shakespeare for non-existent 
beauties and to extol them. These men, German 
aesthetic critics for the most part utterly devoid 
of aesthetic feeling, ignorant of that simple direct 
artistic impression which for men with a feeling 
for art clearly distinguishes artistic impression from 
all other, but believing the authority that had pro- 
claimed Shakespeare as a great poet began to 
belaud the whole of Shakespeare indiscriminately, 
selecting passages especially which struck them by 
their effects or expressed thoughts corresponding 
to their own view of life, imagining that such effects 
and such thoughts constitute the essence of what 
is called art. 

These men acted as blind men would if they tried 
by touch to select diamonds out of a heap of stones 
they fingered. As the blind man, long sorting out 
the many little stones, could finally come to no 
other conclusion than that all the stones were 
precious and the smoothest were especially pre- 
cious, so the aesthetic critics, deprived of artistic 
feeling, could come to no other result about Shake- 
speare. To make their praise of the whole of 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 375 

Shakespeare more convincing they composed an 
aesthetic theory, according to which a definite 
religious view of life is not at all necessary for the 
creation of works of art in general or for the drama 
in particular; that for the inner content of a play 
it is quite enough to depict passions and human 
characters; that not only is no religious illumina- 
tion of the matter presented required., but that art 
ought to be objective, that is to say, it should depict 
occurrences quite independently of any valuation 
of what is good or bad. And as this theory was 
educed from Shakespeare, it naturally happened 
that the works of Shakespeare corresponded to this 
theory and were therefore the height of perfection. 

And these were the people chiefly responsible 
for Shakespeare's fame. 

Chiefly in consequence of their writings, that 
interaction of writers and the public came about 
which found expression, and still finds expression, 
in the insensate laudation of Shakespeare without 
any rational basis. These aesthetic critics wrote 
profound treatises about Shakespeare (eleven 
thousand volumes have been written about him, 
and a whole science of Shakespearology has been 
formulated) ; the public became more and more 
interested, and the learned critics explained more 
and more, that is to say, they added to the con- 
fusion and laudation. 

So that the first cause of Shakespeare's fame was 
that the Germans wanted something freer and 
more alive to oppose to the French drama of which 
they were tired, and which was really dull and 
cold. The second cause was that the young Ger- 
man writers required a model for their own 
dramas. The third and chief cause was the activity 
of the learned and zealous aesthetic German critics 
who lacked aesthetic feeling and formulated the 



376 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

theory of objective art, that is to say, deliberately 
repudiated the religious essence of the drama. 

'But,' I shall be asked, 'what do you mean by the 
words "religious essence of the drama"? Is not 
what you demand for the drama religious in- 
struction, didactics: what is called a tendency 
which is incompatible with true art?' By 'the 
religious essence of art', I reply, I mean not an 
external inculcation of any religious truth in 
artistic guise, and not an allegorical representation 
of those truths, but the expression of a definite 
view of life corresponding to the highest religious 
understanding of a given period : an outlook which, 
serving as the impelling motive for the composition 
of the drama, permeates the whole work though the 
author be unconscious of it. So it has always been 
with true art, and so it is with every true artist in 
general and with dramatists especially. Hence, as 
happened when the drama was a serious thing, and 
as should be according to the essence of the matter, 
he alone can write a drama who has something to 
say to men something highly important for them 
about man's relation to God, to the universe, to 
all that is infinite and unending. 

But when, thanks to the German theories about 
objective art, an idea had been established that, 
for drama, this is not wanted at all, then a writer 
like Shakespeare who in his own soul had not 
formed religious convictions corresponding to his 
period, and who had even no convictions at all, 
but piled up in his plays all possible events, 
horrors, fooleries, discussions, and effects could 
evidently be accepted as the greatest of dramatic 
geniuses. 

But all these are external reasons: the funda- 
mental inner cause of Shakespeare's fame was, and 
is, that his plays fitted pro captu lectoris, that is to 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 377 

say, responded to the irreligious and immoral 
attitude of the upper classes of our world. 

VIII 

A series of accidents brought it about that 
Goethe at the beginning of the last century, being 
the dictator of philosophic thought and aesthetic 
laws, praised Shakespeare; the aesthetic critics 
caught up that praise and began to write their 
long foggy erudite articles, and the great European 
public began to be enchanted by Shakespeare. 
The critics, responding to this public interest, 
laboriously vied with one another in writing more 
and more articles about Shakespeare, and readers 
and spectators were still further confirmed in their 
enthusiasm, and Shakespeare's fame kept growing 
and growing like a snowball, until in our time it 
has attained a degree of insane laudation that 
obviously rests on no other basis than suggestion. 

'There is no one even approximately equal to 
Shakespeare either among ancient or modern 
writers.' 'Poetic truth is the most brilliant gem 
in the crown of Shakespeare's service.' 'Shake- 
speare is the greatest moralist of all times.' 'Shake- 
speare displays such diversity and such objectivity 
as place him beyond the limits of time and 
nationality.' 'Shakespeare is the greatest genius 
that has hitherto existed. 5 'For the creation of 
tragedies, comedies, historical plays, idylls, idyllic 
comedies, aesthetic idylls, for representation itself, 
as also for incidental verses, he is the only man. 
He not only wields unlimited power over our 
laughter and our tears, over all phases of passion, 
humour, thought and observation, but he com- 
mands an unlimited realm of imagination, full of 
fancy of a terrifying and amazing character, and 



378 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

he possesses penetration in the world of invention 
and of reality, and over all this there reigns one 
and the same truthfulness to character and to 
nature, and the same spirit of humanity.' 

'To Shakespeare the epithet of great applies 
naturally; and if one adds that independently of his 
greatness he has also become the reformer of all 
literature, and moreover has expressed in his works 
not only the phenomena of the life of his time, but 
also from thoughts and views that in his day 
existed only in germ has prophetically foreseen the 
direction which the social spirit would take in the 
future (of which we see an amazing example in 
Hamlet) one may say without hesitation that 
Shakespeare was not only a great, but the greatest 
of all poets that ever existed, and that in the sphere 
of poetic creation the only rival that equals him 
is life itself, which in his productions he depicted 
with such perfection.' 

The obvious exaggeration of this appraisement 
is a most convincing proof that it is not the out- 
come of sane thought, but of suggestion. The more 
insignificant, the lower, the emptier, a pheno- 
menon is, once it becomes the object of suggestion, 
the more supernatural and exaggerated is the im- 
portance attributed to it. The Pope is not only 
holy, but most holy, and so forth. So Shakespeare 
is not only a good writer, but the greatest genius, 
the eternal teacher of mankind. 

Suggestion is always a deceit, and every deceit 
is an evil. And really the suggestion that Shake- 
speare's works are great works of genius, presenting 
the climax both of aesthetic and ethical perfec- 
tion, has caused and is causing great injury to 
men. 

This injury is twofold: first, the fall of the drama 
and the substitution of an empty immoral amuse- 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 379 

ment for that important organ of progress, and 
secondly, the direct degradation of men by pre- 
senting them with false models for imitation. 

The life of humanity only approaches perfection 
by the elucidation of religious consciousness (the 
only principle securely uniting men one with 
another). The elucidation of the religious con- 
sciousness of man is accomplished through all sides 
of man's spiritual activity. One side of that activity 
is art. One part of art, and almost the most im- 
portant, is the drama. 

And therefore the drama, to deserve the im- 
portance attributed to it, should serve the elucida- 
tion of religious consciousness. Such the drama 
always was, and such it was in the Christian world. 
But with the appearance of Protestantism in its 
broadest sense that is to say, the appearance of 
a new understanding of Christianity as a teaching 
of life dramatic art did not find a form correspond- 
ing to this new understanding of religion, and the 
men of the Renaissance period were carried away 
by the imitation of classical art. This was most 
natural, but the attraction should have passed and 
art should have found, as it is now beginning to 
find, a new form corresponding to the altered 
understanding of Christianity. 

But the finding of this new form was hindered 
by the teaching, which arose among German 
writers at the end of the i8th and beginning of the 
igth centuries, of the so-called objectivity of art 
that is to say, the indifference of art to good or evil 
together with an exaggerated praise of Shake- 
speare's dramas, which partly corresponded to the 
aesthetic theory of the Germans and partly served 
as material for it. Had there not been this exag- 
gerated praise of Shakespeare's dramas, accepted 
as the most perfect models of drama, people of the 



380 SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

1 8th and igth centuries, and of our own, would 
have had to understand that the drama, to have 
a right to exist and be regarded as a serious matter, 
ought to serve, as always was and cannot but be 
the case, the elucidation of religious consciousness. 
And having understood this they would have 
sought a new form of drama corresponding to 
their religious perception. 

But when it was decided that Shakespeare's 
drama is the summit of perfection, and that people 
ought to write as he did without any religious or 
even any moral content all the dramatists, imitat- 
ing him, began to compose plays lacking content, 
like the plays of Goethe, Schiller, Hugo, and, 
among us Russians, Pushkin, and the historical 
plays of Ostrovski, Alexey Tolstoy, and the in- 
numerable other more or less well-known dramatic 
works which fill all the theatres and are continually 
composed by anyone to whom the thought and 
desire to write plays occurs. 

Only thanks to such a mean, petty, understand- 
ing of the importance of the drama do there appear 
among us that endless series of dramatic works 
presenting the actions, situations, characters, and 
moods of people, not only devoid of any spiritual 
content but even lacking any human sense. And 
let not the reader suppose that I exclude from this 
estimate of contemporary drama the pieces I 
myself have incidentally written for the theatre. 
I recognize them, just like all the rest, to be lacking 
in that religious content which should form the 
basis of the future drama. 

So that the drama, the most important sphere 
of art, has become in our time merely an empty 
and immoral amusement for the empty and im- 
moral crowd. What is worst of all is that to the 
art of the drama, which has fallen as low as it is 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 381 

possible to fall, people continue to attribute an 
elevated significance unnatural to it. 

Dramatists, actors, theatrical managers, the 
press the latter most seriously publishing reports 
of theatres, operas, and so forth all feel assured 
that they are doing something very useful and 
important. 

The drama in our time is like a great man fallen 
to the lowest stage of degradation, who yet con- 
tinues to pride himself on his past, of which nothing 
now remains. And the public of our time is like 
those who pitilessly get amusement out of this once 
great man, now descended to the lowest depths. 

Such is one harmful effect of the epidemic sug- 
gestion of the greatness of Shakespeare. Another 
harmful effect of that laudation is the setting up 
of a false model for men's imitation. 

If people now wrote of Shakespeare that, for his 
time, he was a great writer, managed verse \\eli 
enough, was a clever actor and a good stage- 
manager, even if their valuation were inexact and 
somewhat exaggerated, provided it was moderate, 
people of the younger generations might remain 
free from the Shakespearian influence. But no 
young man can now remain free from this harmful 
influence, for instead of the religious and moral 
teachers of mankind being held up to him as 
models of moral perfection, as soon as he enters 
on life he is confronted first of all by Shakespeare, 
who learned men have decided (and transmitted 
from generation to generation as an irrefragable 
truth) is the greatest of poets and the greatest of 
life's teachers. 

On reading or hearing Shakespeare the question 
for a young man is no longer whether Shakespeare 
is good or bad, but only to discover wherein lies 
that extraordinary aesthetic and ethical beauty of 



3 8a SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 

which he has received the suggestion from learned 
men whom he respects, but which he neither sees 
nor feels. And perverting his aesthetic and ethical 
feeling, he tries to force himself to agree with the 
prevailing opinion. He no longer trusts himself, 
but trusts to what learned people whom he respects 
have said (I myself have experienced all this). 
Reading the critical analyses of the plays and the 
extracts from books with explanatory commen- 
taries, it begins to seem to him that he feels some- 
thing like an artistic impression, and the longer 
this continues the more is his aesthetic and ethical 
feeling perverted. He already ceases to discriminate 
independently and clearly between what is truly 
artistic, and the artificial imitation of art. 

But above all, having assimilated that immoral 
view of life which permeates all Shakespeare's 
works, he loses the capacity to distinguish between 
good and evil. And the error of extolling an 
insignificant, inartistic, and not only non-moral 
but plainly immoral writer, accomplishes its per- 
nicious work. 

That is why I think that the sooner people 
emancipate themselves from this false worship of 
Shakespeare the better it will be: first because 
people when they are freed from this falsehood will 
come to understand that a drama which has no 
religious basis is not only not an important or good 
thing, as is now supposed, but is most trivial and 
contemptible; and having understood this they will 
have to search for and work out a new form of 
modern drama a drama which will serve for the 
elucidation and confirmation in man of the highest 
degree of religious consciousness; and secondly 
because people, when themselves set free from this 
hypnotic state, will understand that the insignifi- 
cant and immoral works of Shakespeare and his 



SHAKESPEARE AND THE DRAMA 383 

imitators, aiming only at distracting and amusing 
the spectators, cannot possibly serve to teach the 
meaning of life, but that, as long as there is no 
real religious drama, guidance for life must be 
looked for from other sources. 



WHAT'S TO BE DONE? 

AJOUT a month ago I had a visit from two young 
men, one of whom was wearing a cap and 
peasant bast shoes, and the other a once fashion- 
able black hat and torn boots. 

I asked them who they were, and with uncon- 
cealed pride they informed me that they were 
workmen expelled from Moscow for taking part 
in the armed rising. Passing our village they had 
found employment as watchmen on an estate, but 
had lived there less than a month. The day before 
they came to see me they had been dismissed, the 
owner charging them with attempting to persuade 
the peasants to lay waste the estate. They denied 
the charge with a smile, saying they had attempted 
no persuasion but had merely gone into the village 
of an evening and chatted with their fellows. 

They had both read revolutionary literature, 
particularly the bolder of the two, who had spark- 
ling black eyes and white teeth and smiled a great 
deal, and they both used foreign words such as 
'orator', 1 'proletariat', 'Social-Democrat', 'ex- 
ploitation', and so on, in and out of place, 

I asked them what they had read, and the darker 
one replied with a smile that he had read various 
pamphlets. 

'Which?' I asked. 

'All sorts. "Land and Liberty" for instance.' 

I then asked them what they thought of such 
pamphlets. 

'They tell the real truth,' replied the dark 
one. 

'What is it you find so true in them?' I asked. 

1 Meaning a stump orator for one of the political parties. 
A. M. 



WHAT'S TO BE DONE? 385 

'Why, that it has become impossible to go on 
living as we do.' 

'Why is it impossible? 5 

'Why? Because we have neither land nor work, 
and the government throttles the people without 
sense or reason.' 

And interrupting one another, they began to tell 
how people who had done nothing wrong were 
flogged by Cossacks with their heavy whips, seized 
haphazard by the police, and even shot in their 
own houses. 

On my saying that an armed rebellion was a 
bad and irrational affair, the dark one smiled and 
replied quietly: 'We are of a different opinion.' 

When I spoke of the sin of murder and the law 
of God they exchanged glances, and the darker 
one shrugged his shoulders. 

'Does the law of God say the proletariat is to 
be exploited? 5 he asked. 'People used to think so, 
but now they know better, and it can't go on. . . .' 

I brought them out some booklets, chiefly on 
religious subjects. They glanced at the titles and 
were evidently not pleased. 

'Perhaps you don't care for them? If so, don't 
take them.' 

'Why not? 5 said the darker one, and putting the 
booklets into their blouses they took their leave. 

Though I had not been reading the papers, I 
knew what had been going on in Russia recently 
from the talk of my family, from letters I had 
received, and from accounts given by visitors; and 
just because I had not read the papers I knew 
particularly well of the amazing change that had 
latterly taken place in the views held by our 
society and by the people, a change amounting 
to this, that whereas people formerly considered 
the government to be necessary, now all except a 

459 n 



386 WHAT'S TO BE DONE? 

very few looked upon its activity as criminal and 
wrong and blamed the government alone for all 
the disturbances. That opinion was shared by 
professors, postal officials, authors, shopkeepers, 
doctors, and workmen alike, and the feeling was 
strengthened by the dissolution of the first Duma 
and had reached its highest point as a result of the 
cruel measures lately adopted by the government. 

I knew this. But my talk with these two men 
had a great effect on me. Like the shock which 
suddenly turns freezing liquid into ice, it suddenly 
turned a whole series of similar impressions I had 
previously received into a definite and indubitable 
conviction. 

After my talk with them I saw clearly that all 
the crimes the government is now committing in 
order to crush the revolution not only fail to crush 
it but inflame it all the more, and that if the 
revolutionary movement appears for a time to die 
down under the cruelties of the government, it is 
not destroyed but merely temporarily hidden, and 
will inevitably spring up again with new and in- 
creased strength. The fire is now in such a state 
that any contact with it can only increase its fierce- 
ness. And it became clear to me that the only 
thing that could help would be for the government 
to cease any and every attempt to enforce its will, 
to cease not only executing and arresting, but 
all banishing, persecuting, and proscribing. Only 
in that way could this horrible strife between 
brutalized men be brought to an end. 

It became perfectly clear to me that the only 
means of stopping the horrors that are being com- 
mitted, and the perversion of the people, was the 
resignation by the government of its power. I was 
convinced that that was the best thing the govern- 
ment could do, but I was equally firmly convinced 



WHAT 'S TO BE DONE? 387 

that were I to make any such proposal it would be 
received merely as an indication that I was quite 
insane. And therefore, though it was perfectly 
clear to me that the continuance of governmental 
cruelty could only make things worse and not 
better, I did not attempt to write or even to speak 
about it. 

Nearly a month has passed, and unfortunately 
my supposition finds more and more confirmation. 
There are more and more executions and more and 
more murders and robberies. I know this both 
from conversation and from chance glances at the 
papers, and I know that the mood of the people 
and of society has become more and more em- 
bittered against the government. 

When I was out riding a couple of days ago, a 
young man wearing a pea-jacket and a curious 
blue cap with a straight crown was driving in the 
same direction in a peasant cart, and jumped off 
his cart and came up to me. 

He was a short man with a little red moustache 
and an unhealthy complexion, and he had a clever, 
harsh face and a dissatisfied expression. 

He asked me for booklets, but this was evidently 
an excuse for entering into conversation. 

I asked him where he came from. 

He was a peasant from a distant village, some 
of the men of which had lately been imprisoned 
and whose wives had been to see me. 

It was a village I knew well and in which it had 
fallen to my lot to administer the Charter of 
Liberation, 1 and I had always admired its parti- 

1 The only official position Tolstdy ever held after he left 
the army was that of 'Arbiter of the Peace* in 1861-2. In 
that capacity it fell to his lot to regulate the relations between 
the landlords and the newly emancipated serfs in his district. 
A.M. 



388 WHAT'S TO BE DONE? 

cularly bold and handsome peasants. Specially 

talented pupils used to come to my school from that 

village. 

I asked him about the peasants who had been 
sent to prison, and he told me with the same 
assurance and absence of doubt that I had recently 
encountered in everyone, and the same full confi- 
dence that the government alone is to blame that 
though they had done no wrong they had been 
seized, beaten, and imprisoned. 

Only with great difficulty could I get him to 
explain what they were accused of. 

It turned out that they were 'orators', and held 
meetings at which they spoke of the necessity of 
expropriating the land. 

I said that the establishment of an equal right 
for all to the use of the land cannot be established 
by violence. 

He did not agree. 

'Why not?' said he. 'We only need to organize.' 

'How will you organize?' I asked. 

'That will be seen when the time comes.' 

'Do you mean another armed rising?' 

'It has become a painful necessity.' 

I said (what I always say in such cases) that evil 
cannot be conquered by evil, but only by refraining 
from evil. 

'But it has become impossible to live like that. 
We have no work and no land. What's to become 
of us? 5 he asked, looking at me from under his 
brows. 

'I am old enough to be your grandfather/ I 
replied, 'and I won't argue with you. But I will 
say one thing to you, as to a young man beginning 
life. If what the government is doing is bad, what 
you are doing or preparing to do is equally bad. 
As a young man whose habits are just forming you 



WHAT 'S TO BE DONE? 389 

should do one thing live rightly, not sinning or 
resisting the will of God.' 

He shook his head with dissatisfaction, and said : 

4 Every man has his own God. Millions of men 
millions of Gods.' 

4 All the same,' I said, 'I advise you to cease 
taking part in the revolution.' 

4 But what's to be done? 5 he replied. 'We can't 
go on enduring and enduring. What's to be 
done?' 

I felt that no good would come of our talk and 
was about to ride away, but he stopped me. 

'Won't you help me to subscribe for a news- 
paper?' he asked. 

I refused and rode away from him feeling sad. 

He was not one of those unemployed factory 
hands of whom thousands are now roaming about 
Russia. He was a peasant agriculturist living in 
a village, and there are not hundreds or thousands 
but millions of such peasants. And the infection of 
such a mood as his is spreading more and more. 

On returning home I found my family in the 
saddest frame of mind. They had just read the 
newspaper that had come (it was October 6th, 
old style). 

'Twenty-two more executions to-day!' said my 
daughter. 'It's horrible!' 

'Not only horrible, but senseless,' said I. 

'But what y s to be done? They can't be allowed to 
rob and kill and go unpunished,' said one of those 
present. 

Those words: What's to be done? were the very 
words the two vagabonds from the estate and to- 
day's peasant revolutionary had used. 

'It is impossible to endure these insensate horrors 
committed by a corrupt government which is 
ruining both the country and the people. We 



390 WHAT'S TO BE DONE? 

hate the means we have to employ, but What 9 s to 

be done?' say the revolutionists on the one side. 

'One cannot allow some self-appointed pre- 
tenders to seize power and rule Russia as they like, 
perverting and ruining it. Of course, the temporary 
measures now employed are lamentable, but 
What *s to be done?' say the others, the conservatives. 

And I thought of people near to me revolution- 
ists and conservatives and of to-day's peasant and 
of those unfortunate revolutionists who import and 
prepare bombs and murder and rob, and of the 
equally pitiable, lost men who decree and organize 
the courts martial, take part in them, and shoot 
and hang, all alike assuring themselves that they 
are doing what is necessary and all alike repeating 
the same words: What 's to be done? 

What *s to be done? they all ask, but they do not 
put it as a question: 'What ought I to do?' They 
put it as an assertion that it will be much worse 
for everyone if we cease to do what we are doing. 

And everyone is so accustomed to these words 
which hide an explanation and justification of the 
most horrible and immoral actions, that it enters 
no one's head to ask : 'Who are you who ask What ' s 
to be done? Who are you that you consider your- 
selves called on to decide other people's fate by 
actions which all men even you yourselves 
know to be odious and wicked? How do you 
know that what you wish to alter should be 
altered in the way that seems to you to be good? 
Do you not know that there are many men such 
as you who consider bad and harmful what you 
consider good and useful? And how do you know 
that what you are doing will produce the results 
you expect, for you cannot but be aware that the 
results attained are generally contrary to those 
aimed at especially in affairs relating to the life 



WHAT'S TO BE DONE? 391 

of a whole nation? And above all, what right have 
you to do what is contrary to the law of God (if 
you acknowledge a God), or to the most generally 
accepted laws of morality (if you acknowledge 
nothing but the generally accepted laws of moral- 
ity)? By what right do you consider yourselves 
freed from those most simple and indubitable 
human obligations which are irreconcilable with 
your revolutionary or governmental actions? 

If your question What 's to be done? is really a 
question and not a justification, and if you put 
it as you should do to yourselves, a quite clear and 
simple answer naturally suggests itself. The answer 
is that you must do not what the Tsar, Governor, 
police-officers, Duma, or some political party 
demands of you, but what is natural to you as a 
man, what is demanded of you by that Power 
which sent you into the world the Power most 
people are accustomed to call God. 

And as soon as this reply is given to the question 
What 's to be done? it immediately dispels the stupid, 
crime-begetting fog under whose influence men 
imagine, for some reason, that they, alone of all 
men they who are perhaps the most entangled 
and the most astray from the true path of life are 
called on to decide the fate of millions and for the 
questionable benefit of these millions to commit 
deeds which unquestionably and evidently bring 
disaster to them. 

There exists a general law acknowledged by all 
reasonable men and confirmed by tradition, by all 
the religions of all the nations, and by true science. 
This law is that men, to fulfil their destiny and 
attain their greatest welfare, should help one 
another, love one another, and in any case not 
attack each other's liberty and life. Yet strange 
to say, there are people who assure us that it is 



392 WHAT'S TO BE DONE? 

quite needless to obey this law, that there are cases 
in which one may and should act contrary to it, 
and that such deviations from the eternal law will 
bring more welfare both to individuals and to 
societies than the fulfilment of the reasonable, 
supreme law common to all mankind. 

The workmen in a vast complex factory have 
received and accepted clear instructions from the 
master as to what they should and should not do, 
both that the works may go well and for their o\\ n 
welfare. But people turn up who have no idea of 
what the works produce or of how they produce 
it, and they assure the workmen that they should 
cease to do what the master has ordered and 
should do just the contrary, in order that the works 
may go properly and the workers obtain the great- 
est benefit. 

Is not that just what these people are doing 
unable as they are to grasp all the consequences 
flowing from the general activity of humanity? 
They not only do not obey the eternal laws 
(common to all mankind and confirmed by the 
human intellect) framed for the success of that 
complex human activity as well as for the benefit 
of its individual members, but they break them 
directly and consciously for the sake of some small 
one-sided casual aims set up by some of themselves 
(generally the most erring) under the impression 
that they will thereby attain results more beneficial 
than those obtainable by fulfilling the eternal law 
common to all men and consonant with man's 
nature forgetting that others imagine quite the 
contrary. 

I know that to men suffering from that spiritual 
disease, political obsession, a plain and clear 
answer to the question What 9 s to be done?, an answer 
telling them to obey the highest law common to 



WHAT'S TO BE DONE? 393 

all mankind the law of love to one's neighbour 
will appear abstract and unpractical. An answer 
that would seem to them practical would be one 
telling them that men, who cannot know the con- 
sequences of their actions and cannot know whether 
they will be alive an hour hence, but who know 
very well that every murder and act of violence 
is bad, should nevertheless under the fanciful 
pretext that they are establishing other people's 
future weHare continually act as if they knew 
infallibly what consequences their actions will pro- 
duce, and as if they did not know that to kill and 
torment people is bad, but only knew that such or 
such a monarchy or constitution is desirable. 

That will be the case with many who are suffer- 
ing from the spiritual disease of political obsession, 
but I think the great majority of people suffering 
from the horrors and crimes committed by men 
who are so diseased will at last understand the 
terrible deception under which those lie who regard 
coercive power used by man to man to be rightful 
and beneficent, and having understood this will 
free themselves for ever from the madness and 
wickedness of either participating in force-using 
power or submitting to it, and will understand that 
each man must do one thing that is, fulfil what 
is demanded of him by the reasonable and bene- 
ficent Source which men call 'God', of whose 
demands no man possessed of reason can fail to be 
conscious. 

I cannot but think that if all men, forgetting 
their various positions as ministers, policemen, 
presidents, and members of various combative or 
non-combative parties, would only do what is 
natural to each of them as a human being not 
only would those horrors and sufferings cease of 
which the life of man (and especially of the Russian 



394 WHAT'S TO BE DONE? 

people) is now full, but the Kingdom of God 

would have come upon earth. 

If only some people would act so, the more of 
them there were the less evil would there be and 
the more good order and general welfare. 

[October 1906.] 



I CANNOT BE SILENT 

EVEN death sentences: two in Petersburg, one 
Moscow, two in Penza, and two in Riga. 
Four executions: two in Kherson, one in Vflna, 
one in Odessa.' 

This, repeated daily in every newspaper and 
continued not for weeks, not for months, not for 
a year, but for years. And this in Russia, that 
Russia where the people regard every criminal as 
a man to be pitied and where till quite recently 
capital punishment was not recognized by law! 
I remember how proud I used to be of that when 
talking to Western Europeans. But now for a 
second and even a third year we have executions, 
executions, executions, unceasingly! 

I take up to-day's paper. 

To-day, May gth, the paper contains these few 
words: 'To-day in Kherson on the Strelbftsky 
Field, twenty peasants 1 were hung for an attack, 
made with intent to rob, on a landed proprietor's 
estate in the Elisabetgrad district.' 

Twelve of those by whose labour we live, the 
very men whom we have depraved and are still 
depraving by every means in our power from the 
poison of vodka to the terrible falsehood of a creed 
we impose on them with all our might, but do not 
ourselves believe in twelve of these men strangled 

1 The papers have since contradicted the statement that 
twenty peasants were hung. I can only be glad of the mistake, 
glad not only that eight less have been strangled than was 
stated at first, but glad also that the awful figure moved me 
to express in these pages a feeling that has long tormented me. 
I leave the rest unchanged, therefore, merely substituting 
the word twelve for the word twenty, since what I said refers 
not only to the twelve who were hung but to all the thousands 
who have lately been crushed and killed. L. T. 



396 I CANNOT BE SILENT 

with cords by those whom they feed and clothe and 
house, and who have depraved and still continue 
to deprave them. Twelve husbands, fathers, and 
sons, from among those upon whose kindness, 
industry, and simplicity alone rests the whole of 
Russian life, are seized, imprisoned, and shackled. 
Then their hands are tied behind their backs lest 
they should seize the ropes by which they are to be 
hung, and they are led to the gallows. Several 
peasants similar to those about to be hung, but 
armed, dressed in clean soldiers' uniforms with 
good boots on their feet and with guns in their 
hands, accompany the condemned men. Beside 
them walks a long-haired man wearing a stole and 
vestments of gold or silver cloth, and bearing a 
cross. The procession stops. The man in command 
of the whole business says something, the secretary 
reads a paper; and when the paper has been read 
the long-haired man, addressing those whom other 
people are about to strangle with cords, says some- 
thing about God and Christ. Immediately after 
these words the hangmen (there are several, for 
one man could not manage so complicated a 
business) dissolve some soap, and, having soaped 
the loops in the cords that they may tighten better, 
seize the shackled men, put shrouds on them, lead 
them to a scaffold, and place the well-soaped 
nooses round their necks. 

And then, one after another, living men are 
pushed off the benches which are drawn from under 
their feet, and by their own weight suddenly 
tighten the nooses round their necks and are pain- 
fully strangled. Men, alive a minute before, be- 
come corpses dangling from a rope, at first swinging 
slowly and then resting motionless. 

All this is carefully arranged and planned by 
learned and enlightened people of the upper class. 



I CANNOT BE SILENT 397 

They arrange to do these things secretly at day- 
break so that no one shall see them done, and they 
arrange that the responsibility for these iniquities 
shall be so subdivided among those who commit 
them that each may think and say that it is not 
he who is responsible for them. They arrange to 
seek out the most depraved and unfortunate of 
men, and, while obliging them to do this business 
planned and approved by themselves, still keep up 
an appearance of abhorring those who do it. They 
even plan such a subtle device as this: sentences 
are pronounced by a military tribunal, yet it is 
not military people but civilians who have to be 
present at the execution. And the business is per- 
formed by unhappy, deluded, perverted, and 
despised men who have nothing left them but to 
soap the cords well that they may grip the necks 
without fail, and then to get well drunk on poison 
sold them by these same enlightened upper-class 
people in order the more quickly and fully to forget 
their souls and their quality as men. A doctor 
makes his round of the bodies, feels them, and 
reports to those in authority that the business has 
been done properly all twelve are certainly dead. 
And those in authority depart to their ordinary 
occupations with the consciousness of a necessary 
though painful task performed. The bodies, now 
grown cold, are taken down and buried. 

The thing is awful! 

And this is done not once, and not only to these 
twelve unhappy, misguided men from among the 
best class of the Russian people; it is done un- 
ceasingly for years, to hundreds and thousands of 
similar misguided men, misguided by the very 
people who do these terrible things to them. 

And it is not this dreadful thing alone that is 
being done. All sorts of other tortures and violence 



398 I CANNOT BE SILENT 

are being perpetrated in prisons, fortresses, and 
convict settlements, on the same plea and with the 
same cold-blooded cruelty. 

This is dreadful, but most dreadful of all is the 
fact that it is not done impulsively under the sway 
of feelings that silence reason, as occurs in fights, 
war, or even burglary, but on the contrary it is 
done at the demand of reason and calculation that 
silence feeling. That is what makes these deeds 
so particularly dreadful. Dreadful because these 
acts committed by men who, from the judge 
to the hangman, do not wish to do them prove 
more vividly than anything else how pernicious to 
human souls is despotism ; the power of man over 
man. 

It is revolting that one man can take from 
another his labour, his money, his cow, his horse, 
nay, even his son or his daughter but how much 
more revolting it is that one man can take another's 
soul by forcing him to do what destroys his spiritual 
ego and deprives him of spiritual welfare. And 
that is just what is done by these men who arrange 
executions, and who by bribes, threats, and decep- 
tions calmly force men from the judge to the 
hangman to commit deeds that certainly deprive 
them of their true welfare though they are com- 
mitted in the name of the welfare of mankind. 

And while this goes on for years all over Russia, 
the chief culprits those by whose order these things 
are done, those who could put a stop to them 
fully convinced that such deeds are useful and even 
absolutely necessary, either compose speeches and 
devise methods to prevent the Finns from living 
as they want to live, and to compel them to live 
as certain Russian personages wish them to live, 
or else publish orders to the effect that: 'In Hussar 
regiments the cuffs and collars of the men's jackets 



I CANNOT BE SILENT 399 

are to be of the same colour as the latter, while 
those entitled to wear pelisses are not to have braid 
round the cuffs over the fur.' 

What is most dreadful in the whole matter is 
that all this inhuman violence and killing, besides 
the direct evil done to the victims and their 
families, brings a yet more enormous evil on the 
whole people by spreading depravity as fire 
spreads amid dry straw among every class of 
Russians. This depravity grows with special 
rapidity among the simple working folk because 
all these iniquities exceeding as they do a hun- 
dredfold all that is or has been done by thieves, 
robbers, and all the revolutionaries put together 
are done as though they were something necessary, 
good, and unavoidable; and are not merely ex- 
cused but supported by different institutions in- 
separably connected in the people's minds with 
justice, and even with sanctity namely, the 
Senate, the Synod, the Duma, the Church, and 
the Tsar. 

And this depravity spreads with remarkable 
rapidity. 

A short time ago there were not two executioners 
to be found in all Russia. In the eighties there 
was only one. I remember how joyfully Vladimir 
Solovev then told me that no second executioner 
could be found in all Russia and so the one was 
taken from place to place. Not so now. 

A small shopkeeper in Moscow whose affairs 
were in a bad way offered his services to perform 
the murders arranged by the government, and, 
receiving a hundred rubles (10) for each person 
hung, soon mended his affairs so well that he no 
longer required this additional business and has 
now reverted to his former trade. 



400 I CANNOT BE SILENT 

In Orel last month, as elsewhere, an executioner 
was wanted, and a man was immediately found who 
agreed with the organizers of governmental mur- 
ders to do the business for fifty rubles per head. 
But this volunteer hangman, after making the 
agreement, heard that more was paid in other 
towns, and at the time of the execution, having 
put the shroud sack on the victim, instead of 
leading him to the scaffold, stopped, and, ap- 
proaching the superintendent, said : 'You must add 
another twenty-five rubles, your Excellency, or 
I won't do it! 5 And he got the increase and did 
the job. 

A little later five people were to be hanged, and 
the day before the execution a stranger came to see 
the organizer of governmental murders on a private 
matter. The organizer went out to him, and the 
stranger said: 

'The other day so-and-so charged you seventy- 
five rubles a man. I hear five are to be done to- 
morrow. Let me have the whole job and I'll do 
it at fifteen rubles a head, and you can rely on its 
being done properly!' 

I do not know whether the offer was accepted or 
not, but I know it was made. 

That is how the crimes committed by the govern- 
ment act on the worst, the least moral, of the 
people, and these terrible deeds must also have 
an influence on the majority of men of average 
morality. Continually hearing and reading about 
the most terrible inhuman brutality committed by 
the authorities that is, by persons whom the 
people are accustomed to honour as the best of 
men the majority of average people, especially 
the young, preoccupied with their own affairs, 
instead of realizing that those who do such horrible 
deeds are unworthy of honour, involuntarily come 



I CANNOT BE SILENT 401 

to the opposite conclusion and argue that if men 
generally honoured do things that seem to us 
horrible, these things cannot be as horrible as we 
suppose. 

Of executions, hangings, murders, and bombs, 
people now write and speak as they used to speak 
about the weather. Children play at hangings. 
Lads from the high schools who are almost children 
go out on expropriating expeditions, ready to kill, 
just as they used to go out hunting. To kill off the 
large landed proprietors in order to seize their 
estates appears now to many people to be the very 
best solution of the land question. 

In general, thanks to the activity of the govern- 
ment which has allowed killing as a means of 
obtaining its ends, all crimes, robbery, theft, lies, 
tortures, and murders are now considered by miser- 
able people who have been perverted by that 
example to be most natural deeds, proper to a 
man. 

Yes! Terrible as are the deeds themselves, the 
moral, spiritual, unseen evil they produce is in- 
comparably more terrible. 

You say you commit all these horrors to restore 
peace and order. 

You restore peace and order! 

By what means do you restore them? By destroy- 
ing the last vestige of faith and morality in men 
you, representatives of a Christian authority, 
leaders and teachers approved arid encouraged by 
the servants of the Church! By committing the 
greatest crimes: lies, perfidy, torture of all sorts, 
and this last and most terrible of crimes, the one 
most abhorrent to every human heart that is not 
utterly depraved not just a single murder but 
murders innumerable, which you think to justify 



402 I CANNOT BE SILENT 

by stupid references to such and such statutes 

written by yourselves in those stupid and lying 

books of yours which you blasphemously call 'the 

laws'. 

You say that this is the only means of pacifying 
the people and quelling the revolution; but that 
is evidently false! It is plain that you cannot 
pacify the people unless you satisfy the demand 
of most elementary justice advanced by Russia's 
whole agricultural population (that is, the demand 
for the abolition of private property in land) and 
refrain from confirming it and in various ways 
irritating the peasants, as well as those unbalanced 
and envenomed people who have begun a violent 
struggle with you. You cannot pacify people by 
tormenting them and worrying, exiling, imprison- 
ing, and hanging women and children! However 
hard you may try to stifle in yourselves the reason 
and love natural to human beings, you still have 
them within you, and need only come to your senses 
and think, in order to see that by acting as you 
do that is, by taking part in such terrible crimes 
you not only fail to cure the disease, but by driving 
it inwards make it worse. 

That is only too evident. 

The cause of what is happening does not lie in 
physical events, but depends entirely on the 
spiritual mood of the people, which has changed 
and which no efforts can bring back to its former 
condition, just as no efforts can turn a grown-up 
man into a child again. Social irritation or tran- 
quillity cannot depend on whether Peter is hanged 
or allowed to live, or on whether John lives in 
Tamb6v or in penal servitude at Nerchfnsk. Social 
irritation or tranquillity must depend not on Peter 
or John alone but on how the great majority of the 
nation regard their position, and on the attitude of 



I CANNOT BE SILENT 403 

this majority to the government, to landed property, 
to the religion taught them, and on what this 
majority consider to be good or bad. The power 
of events does not lie in the material conditions 
of life at all, but in the spiritual condition of the 
people. Even if you were to kill and torture a 
tenth of the Russian nation, the spiritual condition 
of the rest would not become what you desire. 

So that all you are now doing, with all your 
searchings, spyings, exiling, prisons, penal settle- 
ments, and gallows, does not bring the people to 
the state you desire, but on the contrary increases 
the irritation and destroys all possibility of peace 
and order. 

'But what is to be done?' you say. 'What is to 
be done? How are the iniquities that are now 
perpetrated to be stopped?' 

The answer is very simple: 'Cease to do what 
you are doing.' 

Even if no one knew what ought to be done 
to pacify c the people' the whole people (many 
people know very well that what is most wanted to 
pacify the Russian people is the freeing of the land 
from private ownership, just as fifty years ago what 
was wanted was to free the peasants from serfdom) 
if no one knew this, it would still be evident that 
to pacify the people one ought not to do what only 
increases its irritation. Yet that is just what you 
are doing! 

What you are doing, you do not for the people 
but for yourselves, to retain the position you 
occupy, a position you consider advantageous but 
which is really a most pitiful and abominable one. 
So do not say that you do it for the people; that 
is not true ! All the abominations you do are done 
for yourselves, for your own covetous, ambitious, 
vain, vindictive, personal ends, in order to con- 



404 I CANNOT BE SILENT 

tinue for a little longer in the depravity in which 

you live and which seems to you desirable. 

However much you may declare that all you do 
is done for the good of the people, men are begin- 
ning to understand you and despise you more and 
more, and to regard your measures of restraint and 
suppression not as you wish them to be regarded 
as the action of some kind of higher collective 
Being, the government but as the personal evil 
deeds of individual and evil self-seekers. 

Then again you say: 'The revolutionaries began 
all this, not we, and their terrible crimes can only 
be suppressed by firm measures' (so you call your 
crimes) 'on the part of the government.' 

You say the atrocities committed by the revolu- 
tionaries are terrible. 

I do not dispute it. I will add that besides being 
terrible they are stupid, and like your own actions 
fall beside the mark. Yet however terrible and 
stupid may be their actions all those bombs and 
tunnellings, those revolting murders and thefts of 
money still all these deeds do not come anywhere 
near the criminality and stupidity of the deeds you 
commit. 

They are doing just the same as you and for the 
same motives. They are in the same (I would say 
'comic' were its consequences not so terrible) 
delusion, that men having formed for themselves 
a plan of what in their opinion is the desirable and 
proper arrangement of society, have the right and 
possibility of arranging other people's lives accord- 
ing to that plan. The delusion is the same. These 
methods are violence of all kinds including taking 
life. And the excuse is that an evil deed committed 
for the benefit of many, ceases to be immoral; and 
that therefore without offending against the moral 



I CANNOT BE SILENT 405 

law, one may lie, rob, and kill whenever this tends 
to the realization of that supposed good condition 
for the many which we imagine that we know and 
can foresee, and which we wish to establish. 

You government people call the acts of the 
revolutionaries 'atrocities' and 'great crimes'; but 
the revolutionaries have done and are doing 
nothing that you have not done, and done to an 
incomparably greater extent. They only do what 
you do; you keep spies, practise deception, and 
spread printed lies, and so do they. You take 
people's property by all sorts of violent means and 
use it as you consider best, and they do the same. 
You execute those whom you think dangerous, 
and so do they. 

So you certainly cannot blame the revolution- 
aries while you employ the same immoral means 
as they do for the attainment of your aim. All that 
you can adduce for your own justification, they 
can equally adduce for theirs; not to mention that 
you do much evil that they do not commit, such 
as squandering the wealth of the nation, preparing 
for war, making war, subduing and oppressing 
foreign nationalities, and much else. 

You say you have the traditions of the past to 
guard and the actions of the great men of the past 
as examples. They, too, have their traditions, also 
arising from the past even before the French 
Revolution. And as to great men, models to copy, 
martyrs that perished for truth and freedom they 
have no fewer of these than you. 

So that if there is any difference between you it 
is only that you wish everything to remain as it 
has been and is, while they wish for a change. And 
in thinking that everything cannot always remain 
as it has been they would be more right than you, 
had they not adopted from you that curious, 



406 I CANNOT BE SILENT 

destructive delusion that one set of men can know 
the form of life suitable for all men in the future, 
and that this form can be established by force. 
For the rest they only do what you do, using the 
same means. They are altogether your disciples. 
They have, as the saying is, picked up all your 
little dodges. They are not only your disciples, they 
are your products, your children. If you did not 
exist neither would they; so that when you try 
to suppress them by force you behave like a man 
who presses with his whole weight against a door 
that opens towards him. 

If there be any difference between you and them 
it is certainly not in your favour but in theirs. The 
mitigating circumstances on their side are, firstly, 
that their crimes are committed under conditions 
of greater personal danger than you are exposed 
to, and risks and danger excuse much in the eyes 
of impressionable youth. Secondly, the immense 
majority of them are quite young people to whom 
it is natural to go astray, while you for the most 
part are men of mature age old men to whom 
reasoned calm and leniency towards the deluded 
should be natural. A third mitigating circumstance 
in their favour is that however odious their murders 
may be, they are still not so coldly, systematically 
cruel as are your Schlusselburgs, transportations, 
gallows, and shootings. And a fourth mitigating 
circumstance for the revolutionaries is that they all 
quite categorically repudiate all religious teaching 
and consider that the end justifies the means. There- 
fore when they kill one or more men for the sake of 
the imaginary welfare of the majority, they act quite 
consistently; whereas you government men from 
the lowest hangman to the highest official all sup- 
port religion and Christianity, which is altogether 
incompatible with the deeds you commit. 



I CANNOT BE SILENT 407 

And it is you elderly men, leaders of other men, 
professing Christianity, it is you who say, like 
children who have been fighting, 'We didn't begin 
they did!' That is the best you can say you 
who have taken on yourselves the role of rulers of 
the people. And what sort of men are you ? Men 
who acknowledge as God one who most definitely 
forbade not only judgement and punishment, but 
even condemnation of others; one who in clearest 
terms repudiated all punishment, and affirmed the 
necessity of continual forgiveness however often a 
crime may be repeated; one who commanded us 
to turn the other cheek to the smiter, and not return 
evil for evil; one who in the case of the woman 
sentenced to be stoned, showed so simply and 
clearly the impossibility of judgement and punish- 
ment between man and man. And you, acknow- 
ledging that teacher to be God, can find nothing 
better to say in your defence than: 'They began 
it! They kill people, so let us kill them!' 

An artist of my acquaintance thought of painting 
a picture of an execution, and he wanted a model 
for the executioner. He heard that the duty of 
executioner in Moscow was at that time performed 
by a watchman, so he went to the watchman's 
house. It was Easter-time. The family were sitting 
in their best clothes at the tea-table, but the master 
of the house was not there. It turned out after- 
wards that on catching sight of a stranger he had 
hidden himself. His wife also seemed abashed, and 
said that her husband was not at home; but his 
little girl betrayed him by saying: 'Daddy's in the 
garret.' She did not know that her father was aware 
that what he did was evil and therefore could not 
help being afraid of everybody. The artist ex- 
plained to the wife that he wanted her husband 



4 o8 I CANNOT BE SILENT 

as a model because his face suited the picture he 
had planned (of course he did not say what the 
picture was). Having got into conversation with 
the wife, the artist, in order to conciliate her, offered 
to take her little son as a pupil, an offer which 
evidently tempted her. She went out and after a 
time the husband entered, morose, restless, fright- 
ened, and looking askance. For a long time he 
tried to get the artist to say why he required just 
him. When the artist told him he had met him 
in the street and his face seemed suitable to the 
projected picture, the watchman asked where had 
he met him? At what time? In what clothes? 
And he would not come to terms, evidently fearing 
and suspecting something bad. 

Yes, this executioner at first-hand knows that he 
is an executioner, he knows that he does wrong 
and is therefore hated, and he is afraid of men: 
and I think that this consciousness and this fear 
before men atone for at least a part of his guilt. 
But none of you from the Secretary of the Court 
to the Premier and the Tsar who are indirect 
participators in the iniquities perpetrated every 
day, seem to feel your guilt or the shame that your 
participation in these horrors ought to evoke. It 
is true that like the executioner you fear men, and 
the greater your responsibility for the crimes the 
more your fear: the Public Prosecutor feels more 
fear than the Secretary; the President of the Court 
more than the Public Prosecutor; the General 
Governor more than the President; the President 
of the Council of Ministers more still, and the Tsar 
most of all. You arc all afraid, but unlike the 
executioner you are afraid not because you know 
you are doing evil, but because you think other 
people do evil. 

Therefore I think that, low as that unfortunate 



I CANNOT BE SILENT 409 

watchman has fallen, he is morally immeasurably 
higher than you participators and part authors of 
these awful crimes: you who condemn others 
instead of yourselves and carry your heads so high. 

I know that men are but human, that we are 
all weak, that we all err, and that one cannot 
judge another. I have long struggled against the 
feeling that was and is aroused in me by those 
responsible for these awful crimes, and aroused the 
more the higher they stand on the social ladder. 
But I cannot and will not struggle against that 
feeling any longer. 

I cannot and will not. First, because an exposure 
of these people who do not see the full criminality 
of their actions is necessary for them as well as for 
the multitude which, influenced by the external 
honour and laudation accorded to these people, 
approves their terrible deeds and even tries to 
imitate them. And secondly because (I frankly 
confess it) I hope my exposure of those men will in 
one way or other evoke the expulsion I desire from 
the set in which I am now living, and in which I 
cannot but feel myself a participant in the crimes 
committed around me. 

Everything now being done in Russia is done in 
the name of the general welfare, in the name of 
the protection and tranquillity of the people of 
Russia. And if this be so, then it is also done for 
me who live in Russia. For me, therefore, exists 
the destitution of the people deprived of the first 
and most natural right of man the right to use 
the land on which he is born; for me those half- 
million men torn away from wholesome peasant 
life and dressed in uniforms and taught to kill; for 
me that false so-called priesthood whose chief duty 
it is to pervert and conceal true Christianity; for 



4 io I CANNOT BE SILENT 

me all these transportations of men from place to 
place; for me these hundreds of thousands of 
hungry migratory workmen; for me these hundreds 
of thousands of unfortunates dying of typhus and 
scurvy in the fortresses and prisons which are in- 
sufficient for such a multitude ; for me the mothers, 
wives, and fathers of the exiles, the prisoners, and 
those who are hanged, are suffering; for me are 
these spies and this bribery; for me the interment 
of these dozens and hundreds of men who have 
been shot; for me the horrible work of these hang- 
men goes on who were at first enlisted with 
difficulty but now no longer so loathe their work; 
for me exist these gallows with well-soaped cords 
from which hang women, children, and peasants; 
and for me exists this terrible embitterment of man 
against his fellow man. 

Strange as it seems to say that all this is done 
for me, and that I am a participator in these 
terrible deeds, I cannot but feel that there is an 
indubitable interdependence between my spacious 
room, my dinner, my clothing, my leisure, and the 
terrible crimes committed to get rid of those who 
would like to take from me what I have. And 
though I know that these homeless, embittered, 
depraved people who but for the government's 
threats would deprive me of all I am using are 
products of that same government's actions, still 
I cannot help feeling that at present my peace really 
is dependent on all the horrors that are now being 
perpetrated by the government. 

And being conscious of this I can no longer 
endure it, but must free myself from this intolerable 
position ! 

It is impossible to live so ! I, at any rate, cannot 
and will not live so. 

That is why I write this and will circulate it by 



I CANNOT BE SILENT 411 

all means in my power both in Russia and abroad 
that one of two things may happen: either that 
these inhuman deeds may be stopped, or that my 
connexion with them may be snapped and I put 
in prison, where I may be clearly conscious that 
these horrors are not committed on my behalf; 
or still better (so good that I dare not even dream 
of such happiness) that they may put on me, as 
on those twelve or twenty peasants, a shroud and 
a cap and may push me also off a bench, so that 
by my own weight I may tighten the well-soaped 
noose round my old throat. 

To attain one of these two aims I address myself 
to all participators in these terrible deeds, begin- 
ning with those who put on their brother men and 
women and children those caps and nooses from 
the prison warders up to you, chief organizers and 
authorizers of these terrible crimes. 

Brother men! Gome to your senses, stop and 
think, consider what you are doing! Remember 
who you are! 

Before being hangmen, generals, public prose- 
cutors, judges, premier or Tsar, are you not men 
to-day allowed a peep into God's world, to-morrow 
ceasing to be? (You hangmen of all grades in 
particular, who have evoked and are evoking 
special hatred, should remember this.) Is it pos- 
sible that you who have had this brief glimpse of 
God's world (for even if you be not murdered, death 
is always close behind us all), is it possible that in 
your lucid moments you do not see that your 
vocation in life cannot be to torment and kill men; 
yourselves trembling with fear of being killed, lying 
to yourselves, to others, and to God, assuring your- 
selves and others that by participating in these things 
you are doing an important and grand work for 



4X2 I CANNOT BE SILENT 

the welfare of millions? Is it possible that when 
not intoxicated by your surroundings, by flattery, 
and by the customary sophistries you do not each 
one of you know that this is all mere talk, only 
invented that, while doing most evil deeds, you 
may still consider yourself a good man? You 
cannot but know that you, like each of us, have 
but one real duty which includes all others the 
duty of living the short space granted us in accord 
with the Will that sent you into this world, and of 
leaving it in accord with that Will. And that Will 
desires only one thing : love from man to man. 

But what are you doing? To what are you 
devoting your spiritual strength? Whom do you 
love? Who loves you? Your wife? Your child? 
But that is not love. The love of wife and children 
is not human love. Animals love in that way even 
more strongly. Human love is the love of man for 
man for every man as a son of God and therefore 
a brother. Whom do you love in that way? No 
one. Who loves you in that way? No one. 

You are feared as a hangman or a wild animal is 
feared. People flatter you because at heart they 
despise and hate you and how they hate you! 
And you know it and are afraid of men. 

Yes, consider it all you accomplices in murder 
from the highest to the lowest, consider who you 
are and cease to do what you are doing. Cease, 
not for your own sakes, not for the sake of your own 
personality, not for the sake of men, not that you 
may cease to be blamed, but for your soul's sake 
and for the God who lives within you! 

1908* 



A LETTER TO A HINDU 

THE SUBJECTION OF INDIA ITS CAUSE AND CURE 

With an Introduction by M. K. GANDHI 

INTRODUCTION 



letter printed below is a translation of 
J> Tolstoy's letter written in Russian in reply to 
one from the Editor of Free Hindustan. Alter having 
passed from hand to hand, this letter at last came 
into my possession through a friend who asked me, 
as one much interested in Tolstoy's writings, 
whether I thought it worth publishing. I at once 
replied in the affirmative, and told him I should 
translate it myself into Gujarati and induce others 
to translate and publish it in various Indian 
vernaculars. 

The letter as received by me w r as a type-written 
copy. It was therefore referred to the author, who 
confirmed it as his and kindly granted me per- 
mission to print it. 

To me, as a humble follower of that great 
teacher whom I have long looked upon as one of 
my guides, it is a matter of honour to be connected 
with the publication of his letter, such especially 
as the one which is now being given to the world. 

It is a mere statement of fact to say that every 
Indian, whether he owns up to it or not, has 
national aspirations. But there are as many 
opinions as there are Indian nationalists as to the 
exact meaning of that aspiration, and more es- 
pecially as to the methods to be used to attain 
the end. 

One of the accepted and 'time-honoured' 
methods to attain the end is that of violence. The 



414 A LETTER TO A HINDU 

assassination of Sir Gurzon Wylie was an illustra- 
tion of that method in its worst and most detestable 
form. Tolst6y's life has been devoted to replacing 
the method of violence for removing tyranny or 
securing reform by the method of non-resistance 
to evil. He would meet hatred expressed in 
violence by love expressed in self-suffering. He 
admits of no exception to whittle down this great 
and divine law of love. He applies it to all the 
problems that trouble mankind. 

When a man like Tolstoy, one of the clearest 
thinkers in the western world, one of the greatest 
writers, one who as a soldier has known what 
violence is and what it can do, condemns Japan 
for having blindly followed the law of modern 
science, falsely so-called, and fears for that country 
'the greatest calamities', it is for us to pause and 
consider whether, in our impatience of English 
rule, we do not want to replace one evil by another 
and a worse. India, which is the nursery of the 
great faiths of the world, will cease to be nationalist 
India, whatever else she may become, when she 
goes through the process of civilization in the shape 
of reproduction on that sacred soil of gun factories 
and the hateful industrialism which has reduced 
the people of Europe to a state of slavery, and all 
but stifled among them the best instincts which are 
the heritage of the human family. 

If we do not want the English in India we must 
pay the price. Tolst6y indicates it. 'Do not resist 
evil, but also do not yourselves participate in evil 
in the violent deeds of the administration of the 
law courts, the collection of taxes and, what is 
more important, of the soldiers, and no one in the 
world will enslave you 9 , passionately declares the 
sage of Yasnaya Polyana. Who can question 
the truth of what he says in the following: 'A 



A LETTER TO A HINDU 415 

commercial company enslaved a nation comprising 
two hundred millions. Tell this to a man free from 
superstition and he will fail to grasp what these 
words mean. What does it mean that thirty 
thousand people, not athletes, but rather weak and 
ordinary people, have enslaved two hundred mil- 
lions of vigorous, clever, capable, freedom-loving 
people? Do not the figures make it clear that not 
the English, but the Indians, have enslaved them- 
selves?' 

One need not accept all that Tolstoy says some 
of his facts are not accurately stated to realize the 
central truth of his indictment of the present 
system, which is to understand and act upon the 
irresistible power of the soul over the body, of 
love, which is an attribute of the soul, over the 
brute or body force generated by the stirring up 
in us of evil passions. 

There is no doubt that there is nothing new in 
what Tolstoy preaches. But his presentation of the 
old truth is refreshingly forceful. His logic is 
unassailable. And above all he endeavours to 
practise what he preaches. He preaches to con- 
vince. He is sincere and in earnest. He commands 
attention. 

M. K. GANDHI. 

[igth November, 



A LETTER TO A HINDU 

By LEO TOLST6Y 

All that exists is One. People only call this One by different 
names. . THE VEDAS. 

God is love, and he that abideth in love abideth in God, 
and God abideth in him. i JOHN iv. 16. 

God is one whole ; we are the parts. 

Exposition of the teaching of the Vedas by Vivekananda. 

I 

Do not seek quiet and rest in those earthly realms 
where delusions and desires are engendered, for if thou 
dost, thou wilt be dragged through the rough wilderness 
of life, which is far from Me. Whenever thou feelest 
that thy feet are becoming entangled in the interlaced 
roots of life, know that thou has strayed from the path 
to which I beckon thee : for I have placed thee in broad, 
smooth paths, which are strewn with flowers. I have put 
a light before thee, which thou canst follow and thus run 
without stumbling. KRISHNA. 

I have received your letter and two numbers 
of your periodical, both of which interest me 
extremely. The oppression of a majority by a 
minority, and the demoralization inevitably re- 
sulting from it, is a phenomenon that has always 
occupied me and has done so most particularly of 
late. I will try to explain to you what I think about 
that subject in general, and particularly about the 
cause from which the dreadful evils of which you 
write in your letter, and in the Hindu periodical 
you have sent me, have arisen and continue to 
arise. 

The reason for the astonishing fact that a major- 
ity of working people submit to a handful of idlers 
who control their labour and their very lives is 



A LETTER TO A HINDU 417 

always and everywhere the same whether the 
oppressors and oppressed are of one race or 
whether, as in India and elsewhere, the oppressors 
are of a different nation. 

This phenomenon seems particularly strange in 
India, for there more than two hundred million 
people, highly gifted both physically and mentally, 
find themselves in the power of a small group of 
people quite alien to them in thought, and im- 
measurably inferior to them in religious morality. 

From your letter and the articles in Free Hin- 
dustan as well as from the very interesting writings of 
the Hindu Swami Vivekananda and others, it ap- 
pears that, as is the case in our time with the ills of 
all nations, the reason lies in the lack of a reasonable 
religious teaching which by explaining the meaning 
of life would supply a supreme law for the guidance 
of conduct and would replace the more than 
dubious precepts of pseudo-religion and pseudo- 
science with the immoral conclusions deduced from 
them and commonly called 'civilization 5 . 

Your letter, as well as the articles in Free Hin- 
dustan and Indian political literature generally, 
shows that most of the leaders of public opinion 
among your people no longer attach any signifi- 
cance to the religious teachings that were and are 
professed by the peoples of India, and recognize 
no possibility of freeing the people from the op- 
pression they endure except by adopting the 
irreligious and profoundly immoral social arrange- 
ments under which the English and other pseudo- 
Christian nations live to-day. 

And yet the chief if not the sole cause of the 
enslavement of the Indian peoples by the English 
lies in this very absence of a religious conscious- 
ness and of the guidance for conduct which should 
flow from it a lack common in our day to all 

459 p 



4 i8 A LETTER TO A HINDU 

nations East and West, from Japan to England and 

America alike. 

II 

O ye, who see perplexities over your heads, beneath 
your feet, and to the right and left of you; you will 
be an eternal enigma unto yourselves until ye become 
humble and joyful as children. Then will ye find Me, 
and having found Me in yourselves, you will rule 
over worlds, and looking out from the great world 
within to the little world without, you will bless every- 
thing that is, and find all is well with time and with you. 

KRISHNA. 

To make my thoughts clear to you I must go 
farther back. We do not, cannot, and I venture 
to say need not, know how men lived millions of 
years ago or even ten thousand years ago, but we 
do know positively that, as far back as we have 
any knowledge of mankind, it has always lived in 
special groups of families, tribes, and nations in 
which the majority, in the conviction that it must 
be so, submissively and willingly bowed to the rule 
of one or more persons that is to a very small 
minority. Despite all varieties of circumstances and 
personalities these relations manifested themselves 
among the various peoples of whose origin we have 
any knowledge; and the farther back we go the 
more absolutely necessary did this arrangement 
appear, both to the rulers and the ruled, to make 
it possible for people to live peacefully together. 

So it was everywhere. But though this external 
form of life existed for centuries and still exists, very 
early thousands of years before our time amid 
this life based on coercion, one and the same thought 
constantly emerged among different nations, name- 
ly, that in every individual a spiritual element is 
manifested that gives life to all that exists, and 



A LETTER TO A HINDU 419 

that this spiritual element strives to unite with 
everything of a like nature to itself, and attains 
this aim through love. This thought appeared in 
most various forms at different times and places, 
with varying completeness and clarity. It found 
expression in Brahmanism, Judaism, Mazdaism 
(the teachings of Zoroaster) , in Buddhism, Taoism, 
Confucianism, and in the writings of the Greek 
and Roman sages, as well as in Christianity and 
Mohammedanism. The mere fact that this thought 
has sprung up among different nations and at 
different times indicates that it is inherent in human 
nature and contains the truth. But this truth was 
made known to people who considered that a 
community could only be kept together if some of 
them restrained others, and so it appeared quite 
irreconcilable with the existing order of society. 
Moreover it was at first expressed only frag- 
mentarily, and so obscurely that though people 
admitted its theoretic truth they could not entirely 
accept it as guidance for their conduct. Then, too, 
the dissemination of the truth in a society based 
on coercion was always hindered in one and the 
same manner, namely, those in power, feeling that 
the recognition of this truth would undermine their 
position, consciously or sometimes unconsciously 
perverted it by explanations and additions quite 
foreign to it, and also opposed it by open violence. 
Thus the truth that his life should be directed 
by the spiritual element which is its basis, which 
manifests itself as love, and which is so natural to 
man this truth, in order to force a way to man's 
consciousness, had to struggle not merely against 
the obscurity with which it was expressed and the 
intentional and unintentional distortions surround- 
ing it, but also against deliberate violence, which 
by means of persecutions and punishments sought to 



420 A LETTER TO A HINDU 

compel men to accept religious laws authorized 
by the rulers and conflicting with the truth. Such 
a hindrance and misrepresentation of the truth 
which had not yet achieved complete clarity 
occurred everywhere : in Confucianism and Taoism, 
in Buddhism and in Christianity, in Moham- 
medanism and in your Brahmanism. 

Ill 

My hand has sowed love everywhere, giving unto 
all that will receive. Blessings are offered unto all My 
children, but many times in their blindness they fail 
to see them. How few there are who gather the gifts 
which lie in profusion at their feet: how many there are, 
who, in wilful waywardness, turn their eyes away from 
them and complain with a wail that they have not that 
which I have given them; many of them defiantly 
repudiate not only My gifts, but Me also, Me, the Source 
of all blessings and the Author of their being. 

KRISHNA. 

I tarry awhile from the turmoil and strife of the world. 
I will beautify and quicken thy life with love and with 
joy, for the light of the soul is Love. Where Love is, 
there is contentment and peace, and where there is 
contentment and peace, there am I, also, in their midst. 

KRISHNA. 

The aim of the sinless One consists in acting without 
causing sorrow to others, although he could attain to 
great power by ignoring their feelings. 

The aim of the sinless One lies in not doing evil unto 
those who have done evil unto him. 

If a man causes suffering even to those who hate him 
without any reason, he will ultimately have grief not 
to be overcome. 

The punishment of evil doers consists in making 
them feel ashamed of themselves by doing them a great 
kindness. 

Of what use is superior knowledge in the one, if he 



A LETTER TO A HINDU 421 

does not endeavour to relieve his neighbour's want as 
much as his own? 

If, in the morning, a man wishes to do evil unto an- 
other, in the evening the evil will return to him. 

THE HINDU KURAL. 

Thus it went on everywhere. The recognition 
that love represents the highest morality was no- 
where denied or contradicted, but this truth was 
so interwoven everywhere with all kinds of false- 
hoods which distorted it, that finally nothing of 
it remained but words. It was taught that this 
highest morality was only applicable to private 
life for home use, as it were but that in public 
life all forms of violence such as imprisonment, 
executions, and wars might be used for the pro- 
tection of the majority against a minority of evil- 
doers, though such means were diametrically op- 
posed to any vestige of love. And though common 
sense indicated that if some men claim to decide 
who is to be subjected to violence of all kinds for 
the benefit of others, these men to whom violence 
is applied may, in turn, arrive at a similar con- 
clusion with regard to those who have employed 
violence to them, and though the great religious 
teachers of Brahmanism, Buddhism, and above all 
of Christianity, foreseeing such a perversion of the 
law of love, have constantly drawn attention to the 
one invariable condition of love (namely, the en- 
during of injuries, insults, and violence of all kinds 
without resisting evil by evil) people continued 
regardless of all that leads man forward to try to 
unite the incompatibles : the virtue of love, and 
what is opposed to love, namely, the restraining of 
evil by violence. And such a teaching, despite its 
inner contradiction, was so firmly established that 
the very people who recognize love as a virtue 
accept as lawful at the same time an order of life 



422 A LETTER TO A HINDU 

based on violence and allowing men not merely 

to torture but even to kill one another. 

For a long time people lived in this obvious 
contradiction without noticing it. But a time 
arrived when this contradiction became more and 
more evident to thinkers of various nations. And 
the old and simple truth that it is natural for men 
to help and to love one another, but not to torture 
and to kill one another, became ever clearer, so 
that fewer and fewer people were able to believe 
the sophistries by which the distortion of the truth 
had been made so plausible. 

In former times the chief method of justifying 
the use of violence and thereby infringing the law 
of love was by claiming a divine right for the 
rulers: the Tsars, Sultans, Rajahs, Shahs, and other 
heads of states. But the longer humanity lived 
the weaker grew the belief in this peculiar. God- 
given right of the ruler. That belief withered in 
the same way and almost simultaneously in the 
Christian and the Brahman world, as well as in 
Buddhist and Confucian spheres, and in recent 
times it has so faded away as to prevail no longer 
against man's reasonable understanding and the 
true religious feeling. People saw more and more 
clearly, and now the majority see quite clearly, the 
senselessness and immorality of subordinating their 
wills to those of other people just like themselves, 
when they are bidden to do what is contrary not 
only to their interests but also to their moral sense. 
And so one might suppose that having lost con- 
fidence in any religious authority for a belief in 
the divinity of potentates of various kinds, people 
would try to free themselves from subjection to it. 
But unfortunately not only were the rulers, who 
were considered supernatural beings, benefited by 
having the peoples in subjection, but as a result of 



A LETTER TO A HINDU 423 

the belief in, and during the rule of, these pseudo- 
divine beings, ever larger and larger circles of 
people grouped and established themselves around 
them, and under an appearance of governing took 
advantage of the people. And when the old decep- 
tion of a supernatural and God-appointed authority 
had dwindled away these men were only concerned 
to devise a new one which like its predecessor 
should make it possible to hold the people in bond- 
age to a limited number of rulers. 

IV 

Children, do you want to know by what your hearts 
should be guided? Throw aside your longings and 
strivings after that which is null and void ; get rid of your 
erroneous thoughts about happiness and wisdom, and 
your empty and insincere desires. Dispense with these 
and you will know Love. KRISHNA. 

Be not the destroyers of yourselves. Arise to your true 
Being, and then you will have nothing to fear. 

KRISHNA. 

New justifications have now appeared in place 
of the antiquated, obsolete, religious ones. These 
new justifications are just as inadequate as the 
old ones, but as they are new their futility cannot 
immediately be recognized by the majority of men. 
Besides this, those who enjoy power propagate 
these new sophistries and support them so skilfully 
that they seem irrefutable even to many of those 
who suffer from the oppression these theories seek 
to justify. These new justifications are termed 
'scientific 5 . But by the term 'scientific* is under- 
stood just what was formerly understood by the 
term 'religious' : just as formerly everything called 
'religious' was held to be unquestionable simply 
because it was called religious, so now all that is 



424 A LETTER TO A HINDU 

called 'scientific' is held to be unquestionable. In 
the present case the obsolete religious justification 
of violence which consisted in the recognition of 
the supernatural personality of the God-ordained 
ruler ('there is no power but of God') has been 
superseded by the 'scientific' justification which 
puts forward, first, the assertion that because the 
coercion of man by man has existed in all ages, it 
follows that such coercion must continue to exist. 
This assertion that people should continue to live 
as they have done throughout past ages rather 
than as their reason and conscience indicate, is 
what 'science' calls 'the historic law'. A further 
'scientific' justification lies in the statement that 
as among plants and wild beasts there is a constant 
struggle for existence which always results in the 
survival of the fittest, a similar struggle should be 
carried on among human beings beings, that is, 
who are gifted with intelligence and love; faculties 
lacking in the creatures subject to the struggle for 
existence and survival of the fittest. Such is the 
second 'scientific' justification. 

The third, most important, and unfortunately 
most widespread justification is, at bottom, the 
age-old religious one just a little altered : that in 
public life the suppression of some for the protec- 
tion of the majority cannot be avoided so that 
coercion is unavoidable however desirable reliance 
on love alone might be in human intercourse. 
The only difference in this justification by pseudo- 
science consists in the fact that, to the question 
why such and such people and not others have the 
right to decide against whom violence may and 
must be used, pseudo-science now gives a different 
reply to that given by religion which declared 
that the right to decide was valid because it was 
pronounced by persons possessed of divine power. 



A LETTER TO A HINDU 425 

'Science' says that these decisions represent the 
will of the people, which under a constitutional 
form of government is supposed to find expression 
in all the decisions and actions of those who are at 
the helm at the moment. 

Such are the scientific justifications of the prin- 
ciple of coercion. They are not merely weak but 
absolutely invalid, yet they are so much needed 
by those who occupy privileged positions that they 
believe in them as blindly as they formerly believed 
in the immaculate conception, and propagate 
them just as confidently. And the unfortunate 
majority of men bound to toil is so dazzled by the 
pomp with which these 'scientific truths' are pre- 
sented, that under this new influence it accepts 
these scientific stupidities for holy truth, just as it 
formerly accepted the pseudo-religious justifica- 
tions; and it continues to submit to the present 
holders of power who are just as hard-hearted but 
rather more numerous than before. 

V 

Who am I? I am that which thou hast searched for 
since thy baby eyes gazed wonderingly upon the world, 
whose horizon hides this real life from thee. I am that 
which in thy heart thou hast prayed for, demanded as 
thy birthright, although thou hast not known what it 
was. I am that which has lain in thy soul for hundreds 
and thousands of years. Sometimes I lay in thee grieving 
because thou didst not recognize me ; sometimes I raised 
my head, opened my eyes, and extended my arms calling 
thee either tenderly and quietly, or strenuously, de- 
manding that thou shouldst rebel against the iron chains 
which bound thee to the earth. KRISHNA. 

So matters went on, and still go on, in the 
Christian world. But we might have hope that 
in the immense Brahman, Buddhist, and Confucian 



426 A LETTER TO A HINDU 

worlds this new scientific superstition would not 
establish itself, and that the Chinese, Japanese, and 
Hindus, once their eyes were opened to the reli- 
gious fraud justifying violence, would advance 
directly to a recognition of the law of love inherent 
in humanity, and which had been so forcibly enun- 
ciated by the great Eastern teachers. But what has 
happened is that the scientific superstition replacing 
the religious one has been accepted and secured 
a stronger and stronger hold in the East. 

In your periodical you set out as the basic 
principle which should guide the actions of your 
people the maxim that: 'Resistance to aggression 
is not simply justifiable but imperative, non- 
resistance hurts both Altruism and Egotism.* 

Love is the only way to rescue humanity from 
all ills, and in it you too have the only method 
of saving your people from enslavement. In very 
ancient times love was proclaimed with special 
strength and clearness among your people to be 
the religious basis of human life. Love, and 
forcible resistance to evil-doers, involve such a 
mutual contradiction as to destroy utterly the 
whole sense and meaning of the conception of love. 
And what follows? With a light heart and in the 
twentieth century you, an adherent of a religious 
people, deny their law, feeling convinced of your 
scientific enlightenment and your right to do so, 
and you repeat (do not take this amiss) the amazing 
stupidity indoctrinated in you by the advocates 
of the use of violence the enemies of truth, the 
servants first of theology and then of science your 
European teachers. 

You say that the English have enslaved your 
people and hold them in subjection because the 
latter have not resisted resolutely enough and have 
not met force by force. 



A LETTER TO A HINDU 427 

But the case is just the opposite. If the English 
have enslaved the people of India it is just because 
the latter recognized, and still recognize, force as 
the fundamental principle of the social order. In 
accord with that principle they submitted to their 
little rajahs, and on their behalf struggled against 
one another, fought the Europeans, the English, 
and are now trying to fight with them again. 

A commercial company enslaved a nation com- 
prising two hundred millions. Tell this to a man 
free from superstition and he will fail to grasp 
what these words mean. What does it mean that 
thirty thousand men, not athletes but rather weak 
and ordinary people, have subdued two hundred 
million vigorous, clever, capable, and freedom- 
loving people? Do not the figures make it clear that 
it is not the English who have enslaved the Indians, 
but the Indians who have enslaved themselves? 

When the Indians complain that the English 
have enslaved them it is as if drunkards complained 
that the spirit-dealers who have settled among 
them have enslaved them. You tell them that they 
might give up drinking, but they reply that they 
are so accustomed to it that they cannot abstain, 
and that they must have alcohol to keep up their 
energy. Is it not the same thing with the millions 
of people who submit to thousands, or even to 
hundreds, of others of their own or other nations? 

If the people of India are enslaved by violence 
it is only because they themselves live and have 
lived by violence, and do not recognize the eternal 
law of love inherent in humanity. 

Pitiful and foolish is the man who seeks what he 
already has, and does not know that he has it. Yes, 
pitiful and foolish is he who does not know the bliss of 
love which surrounds him and which I have given him. 

KRISHNA. 



428 A LETTER TO A HINDU 

As soon as men live entirely in accord with the 
law of love natural to their hearts and now re- 
vealed to them, which excludes all resistance by 
violence, and therefore hold aloof from all parti- 
cipation in violence as soon as this happens, not 
only will hundreds be unable to enslave millions, 
but not even millions will be able to enslave a 
single individual. Do not resist the evil-doer and 
take no part in doing so, either in the violent deeds 
of the administration, in the law courts, the collec- 
tion of taxes, or above all in soldiering, and no one 
in the world will be able to enslave you. 

VI 

O ye who sit in bondage and continually seek and 
pant for freedom, seek only for love. Love is peace in 
itself and peace which gives complete satisfaction. I 
am the key that opens the portal to the rarely discovered 
land where contentment alone is found. KRISHNA. 

What is now happening to the people of the 
East as of the West is like what happens to every 
individual when he passes from childhood to 
adolescence and from youth to manhood. He loses 
what had hitherto guided his life and lives without 
direction, not having found a new standard suitable 
to his age, and so he invents all sorts of occupations, 
cares, distractions, and stupefactions to divert his 
attention from the misery and senselessness of his 
life. Such a condition may last a long time. 

When an individual passes from one period of 
life to another, a time comes when he cannot go 
on in senseless activity and excitement as before, 
but has to understand that although he has out- 
grown what before used to direct him, this does not 
mean that he must live without any reasonable 
guidance, but rather that he must formulate for 
himself an understanding of life corresponding to 



A LETTER TO A HINDU 429 

his age, and having elucidated it must be guided by 
it. And in the same way a similar time must come 
in the growth and development of humanity. I 
believe that such a time has now arrived not in 
the sense that it has come in the year 1908, but 
that the inherent contradiction of human life has 
now reached an extreme degree of tension: on the 
one side there is the consciousness of the beneficence 
of the law of love, and on the other the existing 
order of life which has for centuries occasioned an 
empty, anxious, restless, and troubled mode of life, 
conflicting as it does with the law of love and built 
on the use of violence. This contradiction must be 
faced, and the solution will evidently not be favour- 
able to the outlived law of violence, but to the 
truth w r hich has dwelt in the hearts of men from 
remote antiquity : the truth that the law of love 
is in accord with the nature of man. 

But men can only recognize this truth to its full 
extent when they have completely freed themselves 
from all religious and scientific superstitions and 
from all the consequent misrepresentations and 
sophistical distortions by which its recognition has 
been hindered for centuries. 

To save a sinking ship it is necessary to throw 
overboard the ballast, which though it may once 
have been needed would now cause the ship to 
sink. And so it is with the scientific superstition 
which hides the truth of their welfare from man- 
kind. In order that men should embrace the 
truth not in the vague way they did in childhood, 
nor in the one-sided and perverted way presented 
to them by their religious and scientific teachers, 
but embrace it as their highest law the complete 
liberation of this truth from all and every super- 
stition (both pseudo-religious and pseudo-scientific) 
by which it is still obscured is essential: not a 



430 A LETTER TO A HINDU 

partial, timid at temp t, reckoning with traditions 
sanctified by age and with the habits of the people 
not such as was effected in the religious sphere 
by Guru-Nanak, the founder of the sect of the 
Sikhs, and in the Christian world by Luther, and 
by similar reformers in other religions but a 
fundamental cleansing of religious consciousness 
from all ancient religious and modern scientific 
superstitions. 

If only people freed themselves from their beliefs 
in all kinds of Ormuzds, Brahmas, Sabbaoths, and 
their incarnation as Krishnas and Chris ts, from 
beliefs in Paradises and Hells, in reincarnations 
and resurrections, from belief in the interference 
of the Gods in the external affairs of the universe, 
and above all, if they freed themselves from belief 
in the infallibility of all the various Vedas, Bibles, 
Gospels, Tripitakas, Korans, and the like, and also 
freed themselves from blind belief in a variety of 
scientific teachings about infinitely small atoms 
and molecules and in all the infinitely great and 
infinitely remote worlds, their movements and 
origin, as well as from faith in the infallibility of the 
scientific law to which humanity is at present sub- 
jected : the historic law, the economic laws, the law 
of struggle and survival, and so on if people only 
freed themselves from this terrible accumulation 
of futile exercises of our lower capacities of mind 
and memory called the 'Sciences', and from the 
innumerable divisions of all sorts of histories, an- 
thropologies, homiletics, bacteriologies, jurispru- 
dences, cosmographies, strategics their name is 
legion and freed themselves from all this harmful, 
stupifying ballast the simple law of love, natural 
to man, accessible to all and solving all questions 
and perplexities, would of itself become clear and 
obligatory. 



A LETTER TO A HINDU 431 

VII 

Children, look at the flowers at your feet; do not 
trample upon them. Look at the love in your midst 
and do not repudiate it. KRISHNA. 

There is a higher reason which transcends all human 
minds. It is far and near. It permeates all the worlds 
and at the same time is infinitely higher than they. 

A man who sees that all things are contained in the 
higher spirit cannot treat any being with contempt. 

For him to whom all spiritual beings are equal to 
the highest there can be no room for deception or grief. 

Those who are ignorant and are devoted to the religious rites 
only, are in a deep gloom, but those who are given up to fruitless 
meditations are in a still greater darkness. 

UPANISHADS, FROM VEDAS. 

Yes, in our time all these things must be cleared 
away in order that mankind may escape from self- 
inflicted calamities that have reached an extreme 
intensity. Whether an Indian seeks liberation from 
subjection to the English, or anyone else struggles 
with an oppressor either of his own nationality 
or of another whether it be a Negro defending 
himself against the North Americans; or Persians, 
Russians, or Turks against the Persian, Russian, 
or Turkish governments, or any man seeking the 
greatest welfare for himself and for everybody else 
they do not need explanations and justifications 
of old religious superstitions such as have been 
formulated by your Vivekanandas, Baba Bharatis, 
and others, or in the Christian world by a number 
of similar interpreters and exponents of things 
that nobody needs; nor the innumerable scientific 
theories about matters not only unnecessary but 
for the most part harmful. (In the spiritual realm 
nothing is indifferent : what is not useful is harmful.) 

What are wanted for the Indian as for the 



432 A LETTER TO A HINDU 

Englishman, the Frenchman, the German, and the 
Russian, are not Constitutions and Revolutions, 
nor all sorts of Conferences and Congresses, nor 
the many ingenious devices for submarine naviga- 
tion and aerial navigation, nor powerful explosives, 
nor all sorts of conveniences to add to the enjoy- 
ment of the rich, ruling classes; nor new schools and 
universities with innumerable faculties of science, 
nor an augmentation of papers and books, nor 
gramophones and cinematographs, nor those child- 
ish and for the most part corrupt stupidities termed 
art but one thing only is needful: the knowledge 
of the simple and clear truth which finds place in 
every soul that is not stupefied by religious and 
scientific superstitions the truth that for our life 
one law is valid the law of love, which brings the 
highest happiness to every individual as well as 
to all mankind. Free your minds from those over- 
grown, mountainous imbecilities which hinder 
your recognition of it, and at once the truth will 
emerge from amid the pseudo-religious nonsense 
that has been smothering it: the indubitable, 
eternal truth inherent in man, which is one and 
the same in all the great religions of the world. It 
will in due time emerge and make its way to general 
recognition, and the nonsense that has obscured it 
will disappear of itself, and with it will go the evil 
from which humanity now suffers. 

Children, look upwards with your beclouded eyes, 
and a world full of joy and love will disclose itself to you, 
a rational world made by My wisdom, the only real 
world. Then you will know what love has done with 
you, what love has bestowed upon you, what love 
demands from you. KRISHNA. 

YASNAYA POLYANA. 

December i^th, 1908. 



GANDHI LETTERS 

To Gandhi. 

I HAVE just received your very interesting letter, 
which gave me much pleasure. God help our 
dear brothers and co-workers in the Transvaal! 
Among us, too, this fight between gentleness and 
brutality, between humility and love and pride 
and violence, makes itself ever more strongly felt, 
especially in a sharp collision betw r een religious 
duty and the State laws, expressed by refusals to 
perform military service. Such refusals occur more 
and more often. 

I wrote the 'Letter to a Hindu 5 , and am very 
pleased to have it translated. The Moscow people 
will let you know the title of the book on Krishna. 
As regards 're-birth 1 I for my part should not omit 
anything, for I think that faith in a re-birth will 
never restrain mankind as much as faith in the 
immortality of the soul and in divine truth and 
love. But I leave it to you to omit it if you wish to. 
I shall be very glad to assist your edition. The 
translation and diffusion of my writings in Indian 
dialects can only be a pleasure to me. 

The question of monetary payment should, I think, 
not arise in connexion with a religious undertaking. 

I greet you fraternally, and am glad to have 
come in touch with you. LEO TOLSTOY. 

(Undated, but pjobably written in March 19 ro.) 

To Count Leo Tolstoy, Ydsnaya Polydna, Russia. 

JOHANNESBURG, 

4th April 1910. 
Dear Sir, 

You will remember that I wrote to you from 
London, where I stayed in passing. As your very 



434 GANDHI LETTERS 

devoted adherent I send you together with this 
letter, a little book I have compiled in which I 
have translated my own writings from Gujarati. 
It is worth noting that the Indian government con- 
fiscated the original. For that reason I hastened 
to publish the translation. I am afraid of burdening 
you, but if your health permits and you have time 
to look through the book I need not say how much 
I shall value your criticism of it. At the same time 
I am sending you a few copies of your 'Letter to 
a Hindu 5 which you allowed me to publish. It has 
also been translated into one of the Indian dialects. 
Your humble servant, 

M. K. GANDHI. 

To Mahatma Gandhi. 

YASNAYA POLYANA. 

8th May 1910. 
Dear friend, 

I have just received your letter and your book, 
Indian Home Rule. 

I have read the book with great interest, for I 
consider the question there dealt with Passive 
Resistance to be of very great importance not 
only for Indians but for the whole of mankind. 

I cannot find your first letter, but in looking for 
it have come upon Doke's biography, which much 
attracted me and enabled me to know you and 
understand you better. 

I am not very well at present, and therefore re- 
frain from writing all that is in my heart about your 
book and about your activity in general, which I 
value highly. I will however do so as soon as I am 
better. 

Your friend and brother, 

LEO TOLSTOY. 



GANDHI LETTERS 435 

To Gandhi, Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa. 

KOCHETY. 
Jth September 79/0. 

I received your journal, Indian Opinion, and was 
glad to see what it says of those who renounce all 
resistance by force, and I immediately felt a wish 
to let you know what thoughts its perusal aroused 
in me. 

The longer I live especially now when I clearly 
feel the approach of death the more I feel moved 
to express what I feel more strongly than anything 
else, and what in my opinion is of immense im- 
portance, namely, what we call the renunciation 
of all opposition by force, which really simply 
means the doctrine of the law of love unperverted 
by sophistries. Love, or in other words the striving 
of men's souls towards unity and the submissive 
behaviour to one another that results therefrom, 
represents the highest and indeed the only law of 
life, as every man knows and feels in the depths of 
his heart (and as we see most clearly in children), 
and knows until he becomes involved in the lying 
net of worldly thoughts. This law was announced 
by all the philosophies Indian as well as Chinese, 
and Jewish, Greek and Roman. Most clearly, I 
think, was it announced by Christ, who said ex- 
plicitly that on it hang all the Law and the Pro- 
phets. More than that, foreseeing the distortion 
that has hindered its recognition and may always 
hinder it, he specially indicated the danger of 
a misrepresentation that presents itself to men 
living by worldly interests namely, that they may 
claim a right to defend their interests by force or, 
as he expressed it, to repay blow by blow and 
recover stolen property by force, etc., etc. He 
knew, as all reasonable men must do, that any 



436 GANDHI LETTERS 

employment of force is incompatible with love as 
the highest law of life, and that as soon as the use 
of force appears permissible even in a single case, 
the law itself is immediately negatived. The whole 
of Christian civilization, outwardly so splendid, has 
grown up on this strange and flagrant partly 
intentional but chiefly unconscious misunder- 
standing and contradiction. At bottom, however, 
the law of love is, and can be, no longer valid if 
defence by force is set up beside it. And if once the 
law of love is not valid, then there remains no law 
except the right of might. In that state Christendom 
has lived for 1,900 years. Certainly men have 
always let themselves be guided by force as the 
main principle of their social order. The difference 
between the Christian and all other nations is only 
this : that in Christianity the law of love had been 
more clearly and definitely given than in any other 
religion, and that its adherents solemnly recognized 
it. Yet despite this they deemed the use of force 
to be permissible, and based their lives on violence; 
so that the life of the Christian nations presents a 
greater contradiction between what they believe 
and the principle on which their lives are built: 
a contradiction between love which should pre- 
scribe the law of conduct, and the employment of 
force, recognized under various forms such as 
governments, courts of justice, and armies, which 
are accepted as necessary and esteemed. This 
contradiction increased with the development of 
the spiritual life of Christianity and in recent years 
has reached the utmost tension. 

The question now is, that we must choose one 
of two things either to admit that we recognize 
no religious ethics at all but let our conduct of 
life be decided by the right of might; or to demand 
that all compulsory levying of taxes be discon- 



GANDHI LETTERS 437 

tinued, and all our legal and police institutions, 
and above all, military institutions, be abolished. 

This spring, at a scripture examination in a 
Moscow girls' school, first their religious teacher 
and then an archbishop who was also present, 
questioned the girls on the ten commandments, 
especially on the sixth. After the commandments 
had been correctly recited the archbishop some- 
times put a question, usually: 'Is it always and 
in every case forbidden by the law of God to kill?' 
And the unfortunate girls, misled by their in- 
structor, had to answer and did answer: 'Not 
always, for it is permissible in war and at execu- 
tions.' When, however, this customary additional 
question whether it is always a sin to kill was put 
to one of these unfortunate creatures (what I am 
telling you is not an anecdote, but actually hap- 
pened and was told me by an eyewitness) the girl 
coloured up and answered decidedly and with 
emotion: 'Always!' And despite all the customary 
sophistries of the archbishop, she held steadfastly 
to it that to kill is under all circumstances for- 
bidden even in the Old Testament, and that Christ 
has not only forbidden us to kill, but in general to 
do any harm to our neighbour. The archbishop, 
for all his majesty and verbal dexterity, was silenced, 
and victory remained with the girl. 

Yes, we may write in the papers of our progress 
in mastery of the air, of complicated diplomatic 
relations, of various clubs, of discoveries, of all sorts 
of alliances, and of so-called works of art, and we 
can pass lightly over what that girl said. But we 
cannot completely silence her, for every Christian 
feels the same, however vaguely he may do so. 
Socialism, Communism, Anarchism, Salvation 
Armies, the growth of crime, freedom from toil, 
the increasingly absurd luxury of the rich and 



438 GANDHI LETTERS 

increased misery of the poor, the fearfully rising 
number of suicides are all indications of that 
inner contradiction which must and will be re- 
solved. And, of course, resolved in such a manner 
that the law of love will be recognized and all 
reliance on force abandoned. Your work in the 
Transvaal, which to us seems to be at the end of 
the earth, is yet in the centre of our interest and 
supplies the most weighty practical proof, in which 
the world can now share, and not only the Christian 
but all the peoples of the world can participate. 

I think it will please you to hear that here in 
Russia, too, a similar movement is rapidly attract- 
ing attention, and refusals of military service in- 
crease year by year. However small as yet is with 
you the number of those who renounce all resist- 
ance by force, and with us the number of men who 
refuse any military service both the one and the 
other can say : God is with us, and God is mightier 
than man. 

In the confession of Christianity even a Chris- 
tianity deformed as is that taught among us and 
a simultaneous belief in the necessity of armies 
and preparations to slaughter on an ever-increasing 
scale, there is an obvious contradiction that cries 
to heaven, and that sooner or later, but probably 
quite soon, must appear in the light of day in 
its complete nakedness. That, however, will either 
annihilate the Christian religion, which is indis- 
pensable for the maintenance of the State, or it will 
sweep away the military and all the use of force 
bound up with it which the State needs no less. 
All governments are aware of this contradiction, 
your British as much as our Russian, and therefore 
its recognition will be more energetically opposed 
by the governments than any other activity inimical 
to the State, as we in Russia have experienced and 



GANDHI LETTERS 439 

as is shown by the articles in your magazine. The 
governments know from what direction the greatest 
danger threatens them, and are on guard with 
watchful eyes not merely to preserve their interests 
but actually to fight for their very existence. 

Yours etc., 

LEO TOLSTOY. 



LETTER TO A JAPANESE 

I RECEIVED your very interesting letter and de- 
cided at once to answer it fully and fundamen- 
tally, but ill health and other things have kept me 
till now from that, which I regard as a veiy im- 
portant matter. 

Judging by your mention of your sermon in 
church, I conclude that you are a Christian. And 
as I am aware that several religious teachings are 
current in your country Shintoism, Confucianism, 
Taoism, and Buddhism I conclude that these 
religions are also known to you. 

My supposition that you are acquainted with 
many religions, makes it possible for me to answer 
your doubts in the most definite manner. My 
answer will consist in referring you to the eternal 
truths of religion : not of this or that religion but 
of the one appropriate to all mankind, based not 
on the authority of this or that founder Buddha, 
Confucius, Lao-Tsze, Christ, or Mohammed but 
on the indubitable nature of the truth that has 
been preached by all the great thinkers of the 
world, and that every man not confused by false, 
perverted teachings, now feels in his heart and 
accepts with his reason. 

The teaching expressed by all the great sages of 
the world, the authors of the Vedas, Confucius, 
Lao-Tsze, Buddha, Christ, and Mohammed, as 
well as by the Greek and Roman sages, Marcus 
Aurelius, Socrates, and Epictetus amounts to 
this : that the essence of human life is not the body, 
but that spiritual element which exists in our bodies 
in conditions of time and space a thing incom- 
prehensible, but of which man is vividly conscious, 
and which though the body to which it is bound 



LETTER TO A JAPANESE 441 

is continually changing and disintegrates at death 
remains independent of time and space and is 
therefore unchangeable. Life therefore (and this 
is very clearly expressed in the real, unperverted 
teaching of Sakya Muni) is nothing but the ever 
greater and greater liberation of that spiritual 
element from the physical conditions in which it 
is confined, and the ever-increasing union, by 
means of love, of this spiritual element in ourselves 
with the spiritual element in other beings, and with 
the spiritual element itself which men call God. 
That, I think, constitutes the true religious teaching 
common to all men, on the basis oi which I will try 
to reply to your questions. 

The questionsyou put to me clearly indicate that by 
'religion' you do not mean what I consider to be true 
religious teaching, but that perversion of it which 
is the chief source of human errors and sufferings. 

And strange as it may seem, I am convinced 
that religion the very thing that gives man true 
welfare is, in its perverted form, the chief source 
of man's sufferings. 

You write that refusal to perform army service 
may occasion loss of liberty or life to the refusers, 
and that a refusal to pay taxes will produce various 
materially harmful consequences. And though it 
is not given to us men to foresee the consequences 
of our actions, I will grant that all would happen 
as you anticipate. But all the same, none of these 
presumed consequences can have any influence on 
a truly religious man's perception of the truth or 
of his duty. 

I quite see that non-religious people, revolution- 
ists, anarchists, or socialists, having a definite 
material aim in view the welfare of the majority 
as they understand it cannot admit the reason- 
ableness of refusals to serve in the army or pay 



442 LETTER TO A JAPANESE 

taxes, which in their view can only cause useless 
suffering or even death to the refusers, without 
improving the condition of the majority. I quite 
understand that attitude in non-religious people. 
But for a religious man, living by the spiritual 
essence he recognizes in himself, it is different. For 
such a man there is not and cannot be any question 
of the consequences (no matter what they may be) 
of his actions, or of what will happen to his body 
and his temporal, physical life. Such a man knows 
that the life of his body is not his own life, and that 
its course, continuance, and end do not depend on 
his will. For such a man only one thing is im- 
portant and necessary : to fulfil what is required of 
him by the spiritual essence that dwells within him. 
And in the present case that spiritual essence de- 
mands very definitely that he should not partici- 
pate in actions that are most contrary to love in 
murders and in preparation for murders. Very 
possibly a religious man in a moment of weakness 
may not feel strong enough to fulfil what is de- 
manded of him by the law he acknowledges as the 
law of his life, and because of that weakness he may 
not act as he should. But even so he will always 
know where the truth lies, and consequently where 
his duty lies, and if he does not act as he should, 
he will know that he is guilty and has acted badly, 
and will try not to repeat the sin when next he is 
tempted. But he will certainly not doubt the possi- 
bility of fulfilling the call of the Highest Will, and 
will in nowise seek to justify his action or to make 
any compromise, as you suggest. 

Such a view of life is not only not Utopian as 
it may appear to people of your nation or of the 
Christian nations who have lost all reasonable 
religious understanding of life but is natural to 
all mankind. 



LETTER TO A JAPANESE 443 

So that if we were not accustomed to the tem- 
porary, almost mad, condition in which all the 
nations now exist armed against one another 
what is now going on in the world would appear 
impossibly fantastic, but the refusal of every 
reasonable man to participate in this madness 
would certainly not seem so. 

The condition of darkness in which mankind 
now exists would indeed be terrible if in that 
darkness people did not more and more frequently 
appear who understand what life should and must 
be. There are such people, and they recognize 
themselves to be free in spite of all the threats and 
punishments the authorities can employ; and they 
do, not what the insensate authorities demand 
of them, but what is demanded of them by the 
highest spiritual essence which speaks clearly and 
loudly in every man's conscience. 

To my great joy now, before my death, I see 
every day an ever-increasing number of such 
people, living not by the body but by the spirit, 
who calmly refuse the demands made by those 
who form the government to join them in the ranks 
of murderers, and who joyfully accept all the ex- 
ternal, bodily tortures inflicted on them for their 
refusal. There are many such in Russia men still 
quite young who have been kept for years in the 
strictest imprisonment, but who experience the 
happiest and most tranquil state of mind, as they 
recount in their letters or tell those who see them. 
I have the happiness to be in close touch with many 
of them and to receive letters from them; and if it 
interests you I could send you some of their letters. 

What I have said about refusals to serve in the 
army relates also to refusals to pay taxes, about 
which you write. A religious man may not resist 
by force those who take any of the fruits of his 



444 LETTER TO A JAPANESE 

labour whether they be private robbers or robbers 
that are called 'the government'; but he also may 
not of his own accord help in those evidently evil 
deeds which are carried out by means of money 
taken from the people in the guise of taxes. 

To your argument about the necessity of forcibly 
protecting a victim tortured or slain before your 
eyes, I will reply with an extract from a book, For 
Every Day, which I have compiled, and in which 
from various points of view I have repeatedly 
replied to that very objection. This book may 
interest you I think, for in it are expressed all the 
fundamentals of that religion which, as I began 
by saying, are one and the same in all the great 
religious teachings of the world, as well as in the 
hearts and minds of all men. Here is the extract: 

'It is an astonishing thing that there are people 
who consider it the business of their lives to correct 
others. Can it be that these correctors are so good 
that they have no work left to do in correcting 
themselves?' 

[Tolstoy does not appear to have quoted the 
extract he meant to give. What he generally said 
was, that men fond of correcting others are apt to 
think they can decide who is good and who is bad, 
and may do violence to those they regard as evil- 
doers, whereas they ought rather to correct them- 
selves and not rely on, or employ, violence. A. M.] 

I will conclude by saying that there is but one 
means of improving human life in general: the 
ever-increasing elucidation and realization of the 
one religious truth common to all men. And at 
the same time I will add that I think the Japanese 
nation, with its external development, 'civiliza- 
tion', 'progress', and military power and glory, is 
at present in the saddest and most dangerous condi- 
tion; for it is just that external glitter, and the 



LETTER TO A JAPANESE 445 

adoption from depraved Europe of a 'scientific' 
outlook on life, that more than anything else 
hinders the manifestation among the Japanese 
people of that which alone can give welfare the 
religious truth that is one for all mankind. 

The more in detail you answer me, and the more 
information you give me especially about the 
spiritual condition of the Japanese people the 
more grateful I shall be to you. 

In spite of all external differences 

Your loving brother, 

LEO TOLSTOY. 
YASNAYA POLYANA. 

ijth March 1910. 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

i 

RELIGION 
A BOY and his MOTHER 

BOY. Why has nurse dressed herself up to-day 
and put this new shirt on me? 

MOTHER. Because to-day is a holiday and we are 
going to church. 

BOY. What holiday is it? 

MOTHER. Ascension Day. 

BOY. What does 'ascension' mean? 

MOTHER. It means that our Lord Jesus Christ 
ascended into heaven. 

BOY. What does e ascended j mean? 

MOTHER. It means that he went up. 

BOY. How did he go? On wings? 

MOTHER. No, not on wings. He simply went up, 
because he is God and God can do anything. 

BOY. But where did he go to? Papa told me that 
the sky is really only space. There is nothing there 
but stars, and beyond the stars other stars, and 
what we call the sky has no end. So where did he 
go to? 

MOTHER [smiling]. One can't understand every- 
thing. One must have faith. 

BOY. Faith in what? 

MOTHER. What older people say. 

BOY. But when I said that someone would die 
because the salt was spilt, you yourself told me not 
to believe what is stupid ! 

MOTHER. Quite right. You should not believe 
anything stupid. 

BOY. But how am I to know what is stupid and 
what is not? 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 447 

MOTHER. You must believe the true faith. 

BOY. But what is the true faith? 

MOTHER. Our faith. [Aside.] I think I am talking 
nonsense. [Aloud.] Go and tell papa that we are 
starting, and put on your scarf. 

BOY. Shall we have chocolate after the service? 



448 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 



WAR 

KARLCHEN SCHMIDT, $ years old. 
PTYA oRL6v, 10 years old. 
MASHA ORL6VA, 8 years old. 

KARLCHEN. Our Prussia won't let the Russians 
take land from us ! 

PTYA. But we say that the land is ours as we 
conquered it first. 

MASHA. Who are 'we'? 

PTYA. You're only a baby and don't under- 
stand. 'We' means the people of our country. 

KARLCHEN. It 's like that everywhere. Some men 
belong to one country, some to another. 

MASHA. Whom do I belong to? 

PETYA. To Russia, like all of us. 

MASHA. But if I don't want to? 

PTYA. Whether you want to or not you are still 
Russian. And every country has its own tsar or 
king. 

KARLCHEN [interjecting]. Or Parliament. . . . 

PTYA. Each has its own army and each collects 
taxes from its own people. 

MASHA. But why are they so separated? 

PTYA. What do you mean? Each country is 
different. 

MAsHA. But why are they so separated? 

KARLCHEN. Well, because every man loves his 
own fatherland. 

MASHA. I don't understand why they are sepa- 
rate. Wouldn't it be better to be all together? 

PTYA. To play games it is better to be together, 
but this is not play, it is an important matter. 

MASHA. I don't understand. 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 449 

KARLCHEN. You'll understand when you grow 
up. 

MAsHA. Then I don't want to grow up. 
PTYA. You're little, but you're obstinate al- 
ready, like all of them. 



459 



450 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

3 
THE FATHERLAND: THE STATE 

GAVRfLA, a servant and an army reservist. 
MfsHA, his master' s young son. 

GAVRfLA. Well, Mishenka, my dear little master, 
good-bye ! I wonder if God will ever let us meet 
again. 

MfsHA. Are you really going away? 

GAVRfLA. Of course! There's war again, and 
I'm in the reserve. 

MfsHA. Who is the war with? Who is fighting 
against whom? 

GAVRfLA. Heaven knows! It's too much for me. 
I've read about it in the papers but can't under- 
stand it all. They say the Austriak is offended that 
ours has favoured those what's their names. . . . 

MfsHA. But why do you go? If the tsars have 
quarrelled let them do the fighting. 

GAVRfLA. How can I help going? It's for Tsar, 
Fatherland, and the Orthodox Faith. 

MfsHA. But you don't want to go? 

GAVRfLA. Who would want to leave wife and 
children? And why should I want to go from a 
good place like this? 

MfsHA. Then why do you go? Tell them you 
don't want to go, and won't go. What would they 
do to you? 

GAVRfLA [laughs]. What would they do? Drag 
me off by force ! 

MfsHA. But who would drag you off? 

GAVRfLA. Why, men like myself men under 
orders! 

MfsHA. But why would they drag you off if they 
are men like yourself? 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 451 

GAVRfLA. It's the order of the commanders. 
Orders are given, and one is dragged off. 

MfsHA. But if they too refuse? 

GAVRfLA. They can't help themselves. 

MfsHA. Why riot? 

GAVRfLA. Why, because . . . because it's the law. 

MfsHA. What sort of law? 

GAVRfLA. You say such queer things ! I've been 
chattering with you too long. It's time for me to 
set the samovar for the last time. 



452 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

4 
TAXES 

ELDER. 

GRUSHKA, a girl of J. 

ELDER enters a poor hut. No one is there except seven-year-old 
GRUSHKA. The ELDER looks around. 

ELDER. Is no one in? 

GRUSHKA. Mamka has gone for the cow, and 
Fedka is in the master's yard. 

ELDER. Well, tell your mother that the Elder 
has been. Say that this is the third time, and that 
if she doesn't bring the tax-money without fail by 
Sunday I shall take the cow. 

GRUSHKA. You'll take our cow? Are you a thief? 
We won't let you have it ! 

ELDER [smiling]. What a clever little girl you 
are! What's your name? 

GRUSHKA. Grushka. 

ELDER. Well, Grushka, you're a bright little girl. 
But listen! Tell your mother that I'll take the 
cow although I'm not a thief. 

GRUSHKA. But why will you take the cow if 
you're not a thief? 

ELDER. Because what the law requires must be 
paid. I shall take the cow for taxes. 

GRUSHKA. What do you mean by taxes? 

ELDER. There 's a clever little girl for you ! What 
are taxes? Why, taxes are what the Tsar orders 
people to pay. 

GRtfSHKA. Who tO? 

ELDER. Why, to the Tsar of course ! And then 
they'll decide where the money shall go. 

GRUSHKA. But is the Tsar poor? We are poor and 
he is rich. Why does he take taxes from us? 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 453 

ELDER. He doesn't take the money for himself, 
you little silly. He needs it for us, for our needs: 
for the officials, for the army, for education for 
our own good. 

GRUSHKA. What good does it do us if you take our 
cow? That doesn't do us any good. 

ELDER. You'll understand when you grow up. 
Mind you tell your mother what I've said. 

GR-JSHKA. I'm not going to tell her such rubbish. 
If you and the Tsar need anything, do it for your- 
selves, and we'll do what we need for ourselves. 

ELDER. Ah, when she grows up this girl will be 
rank poison ! 



454 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

5 
CONDEMNATION 



, 10 years old. 
, 9 years old. 
SONYA, 6 years old. 

MfTYA. I told Peter Semenovich that we could 
get used to going without clothes. He said we 
couldn't. Then I told him that Michael Ivanovich 
says we've accustomed our faces to bearing the 
cold and could accustom our whole bodies to 
bearing it in the same way. 'Your Michael Ivano- 
vich is a fool!' says Peter. [Laughs.] And only 
yesterday Michael Ivanovich said to me: 'Peter 
Semenovich tells a lot of lies, but what else can one 
expect from a fool?' [Laughs.] 

ILYIJSHA. I should have said: 'You speak badly 
of him and he speaks badly of you.' 

MfTYA. But seriously, I don't know which of 
them is the fool. 

SONYA. They're both fools. A man who says it 
of another, is a fool himself. 

ILYUSHA. Well, you have just called them both 
fools, so you must be one yourself! 

MfTYA. I don't like their calling one another 
'fool' behind one another's backs. When I grow 
up I shan't do that, I shall just say what I think to 
people's faces. 

iLYtfsHA. I shall too ! 

s6NYA. And I shall be myself. 

MfrYA. What do you mean 'be myself ? 

s6NYA. I mean that I shall say what I think 
when I wish to, and if I don't wish to I shan't. 

ILYUSHA. Which just shows that you're a fool. 

SONYA. You said just now that you weren't going 
to say nasty things about people. 

. Ah, but I didn't say it behind your back! 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 455 

6 
KINDNESS 

SET }** 

OLD WOMAN. 

and MfsHA are in front of their house, building a hut 
for their dolls. 



[angrily to M!SHA] . No, not that way ! Take 
that stick away. You silly! 

OLD WOMAN [comes out onto the porch, crosses herself, 

and exclaims] May Christ bless her, what an angel 
she is! She's kind to everybody. 

[CHILDREN stop playing and look at the OLD WOMAN.] 

MfsHA. Who are you speaking of? 

OLD WOMAN. Your mother. She remembers God 
and has pity on us poor folk. She's just given me 
a petticoat as well as some tea and money. May 
God and the Queen of Heaven bless her ! She 's 
not like that heathen over there, who says : 'There 's 
a lot of the likes of you prowling about!' And his 
dogs are so savage I hardly got away from them. 

MASHA. Who is that? 

OLD WOMAN. The man opposite the dram-shop. 
Ah, he's hard. But let him be! I'm grateful to 
her sweet dove who has helped and comforted 
me in my sorrow. How could we live at all if there 
weren't any people like that? [Weeps.] 

MASHA AND MfsHA. Yes, she *s very kind. 

OLD WOMAN. When you children grow up, be 
like her and don't forget the poor, and then God 
won't forget you. [Goes away.] 

MfsHA. Poor old woman ! 

MAsHA. I'm glad mamma gave her something. 

MfsHA. I don't know why we shouldn't give 
when there is plenty. We don't need it and she 
does. 



456 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

MAsHA. You remember that John the Baptist 
said: 'Let him who has two coats give away one'? 

MfsHA. Yes. When I grow up I shall give away 
everything. 

MASHA. You can't do that ! 

MfsHA. Why not? 

MASHA. What would become of you? 

MfsHA. That's all the same to me. If we were 
kind to everyone, everything would be all right. 

[Leaves his play, goes to the nursery, tears a sheet 
out of a note-book, writes something on it, and 
puts it in his pocket. 

On the sheet was written : *We must be kind.'] 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 457 

7 
DRUNKENNESS 

MAKARKA, aged 12. 
M ARFtiTKA, aged 6. 
PAVIAJSHKA, aged 10. 

TEACHER. 

MAKARKA and MARFUTKA come out of a house into the street. 
MARFUTKA is crying. PAVLUSHKA is standing on the door- 
step of a neighbouring house. 

PAVLUSHKA. Where the devil are you off to at 
this time of night? 
MAKARKA. He's drunk again. 
PAVLUSHKA. Uncle Prokh6r? 
MAKARKA. Who else would it be? 
MARFUTKA. He's beating mammy. 
MAKARKA. I'm not going in again. He'll be 

beating me, too. [Sits down on the threshold.] I'll 
spend the night here. I won't go in. 

[Silence. MARFUTKA cries.] 

PAVLIJSHKA. Oh, shut up ! It's no use. What 
can we do? Leave off I tell you! 

MARFUTKA [through her tears]. If I were Tsar I'd 
thrash those who let him have vodka. I wouldn't 
let anyone sell vodka! 

MAKARKA. The idea ! The Tsar himself deals in 
vodka. He forbids others to sell it so as not to lose 
the profit himself. 

PAVLUSHKA. Rubbish! 

MAKARKA. Rubbish, indeed! Go and ask why 
Akulfna was sent to prison. Because she sold vodka 
without a licence and caused loss to the Tsar ! 

PAVLUSHKA. Is that what it was for? They said 
it was for something against the law. . . . 

MAKARKA. Well, it is against the law to sell 
vodka without a licence. 



458 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

MARFtJTKA. I wouldn't let anyone sell it. It's 

vodka that does all the harm. Sometimes he's all 

right, but when he's drunk he beats everybody 

terribly. 

pAVLtfsHKA. You do say queer things! I'll ask 

our teacher to-morrow. He'll know all about it. 
MAKARKA. All right. Ask him. 

Next morning Prokhor, MAKARKA'S father, having slept off 
his drunkenness, has gone out to take a hair of the dog 
that bit him. MAKARKA'S mother, her eye swollen and 
blackened, has been kneading bread. PAVLUSHKA has 
gone to school. The boys have not yet assembled. The 
TEACHER is sitting in the porch smoking while the boys 
enter the school. 

PAVLUSHKA [going up to TEACHER] . Tell me, Evge*ny 
Semenich . . . someone told me yesterday that the 
Tsar trades in vodka but that Akulina was put in 
prison for doing so. Is that true? 

TEACHER. Whoever told you that was a fool, 
and you were silly to believe him. The Tsar 
doesn't trade in anything that's why he's Tsar. 
And Akulina was put in prison for selling vodka 
without a licence and so causing a loss to the 
Treasury. 

PAVLUSHKA. How could she cause a loss? 

TEACHER. Because there is an excise-duty on 
liquor. A vedro [2-7 gallons] costs the Treasury 
two rubles, and it sells at eight rubles and forty 
kopeks. The difference goes as revenue for the 
government. And that revenue is very large 
seven hundred millions. 

PAVLUSHKA. So that the more vodka is drunk 
the bigger the revenue? 

TEACHER. Of course. If it weren't for this 
revenue there wouldn't be enough money for the 
army and the schools, and all that we need. 

PAVLUSHKA. But if everybody needs these things 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 459 

why don't they take the money direct from us? 
Why get it through vodka? 

TEACHER. 'Why get it through vodka?' Because 
that's the law! Well, children, now you're here, 
take your places ! 



460 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

8 
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT 

PETER PETROVICH, a ProfcSSOT. 
MARY A IVANOVNA, IttS Wife. 

FDYA, their son, g years old. 

IVAN VAsfLEViCH, the military public prosecutor. 

MARYA IVANOVNA is sewing. FEDYA is listening to his father's 
conversation. 

IVAN VASILEVICH. One cannot deny the lessons 
of history. The suppression that is the elimina- 
tion from circulation of perverted people who are 
dangerous to society attains its aim, as we have 
seen not only in France after the Revolution, but 
at other times in history, and again here and now 
in Russia. 

PETER PETR6vrcH. No, we cannot be sure of that. 
We cannot know the ultimate consequences, and 
that assertion does not justify these exceptional 
enactments. 1 

IVAN VASILEVICH. But we have no right to pre- 
suppose that the results of the exceptional enact- 
ments will be harmful either, or that even if harm 
does result it will have been caused by the applica- 
tion of these enactments. That is one thing! 
Another is that men who have lost all semblance 
of humanity and have become wild beasts must be 
treated with severity. In the case of that man, for 
instance, who calmly cut the throats of an old 
woman and her three children just for the sake of 
three hundred rubles how could you deal with 
him except by the extreme penalty? 

PETER PETR6viOH. I don't absolutely condemn 

1 A reference to the State of Enforced Protection (a modified 
State of Siege) which at that time overrode the common law 
in Russia. A. M. 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 461 

the infliction of the death penalty. I only oppose 
the courts-martial which inflict it so frequently. 
If these repeated executions acted only as a deter- 
rent it would be different, but they demoralize 
people by making them indifferent to the killing 
of their fellow men. 

ivAN VAsfLEViCH. Again we do not know the 
ultimate consequences, but we do know the bene- 
ficial results. . . . 

PETER PETROVICH. Beneficial? 

ivAN VAsfLEViGH. Yes, we have no right to deny 
the immediate benefits. How can society afford 
not to deal out retribution according to his deeds 
to such a criminal as. ... 

PETER PETROVICH. You mean that society should 
revenge itself? 

IVAN VASILEVICH. Not revenge itself! On the 
contrary, replace personal revenge by public 
retribution. 

PETER PETR6viCH. Yes. But surely it should be 
done in a way prescribed by law once for all 
not by exceptional enactment. 

IVAN VASILEVICH. Public retribution replaces 
that fortuitous, exaggerated, unlawful revenge, 
frequently unfounded and mistaken, that private 
persons might employ. 

PETER PETROVICH [becoming heated]. Then in your 
opinion this public retribution is never applied 
casually, but is always above suspicion and never 
mistaken? No, I can never agree to that! Your 
arguments will never convince me or anyone else 
that these exceptional enactments under which 
thousands have been executed and are still being 
executed are reasonable, legitimate, or beneficial. 
[Gets up and walks up and down agitatedly.] 

FEDYA [to his mother], Mamma, what is papa upset 
about? 



462 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

MARYA IVANOVNA. Papa thinks it is wrong that 
there should be so many executions. 

FDYA. Do you mean that people are put to 
death? 

MARYA ivANOVNA. Yes. He thinks it should not 
be done so often. 

FEDYA [going up to his father]. Papa, doesn't it say 
in the Ten Commandments: 'Thou shalt not kill'? 
Then it ought not to be done at all ! 

PETER PETROVICH [smiling]. That doesn't refer 
to what we are talking about. It means that 
individuals should not kill one another. 

FEDYA. But when men are executed they are 
killed just the same, aren't they? 

PETER PETROVICH. Of course; but you must 
understand when and why it may be done. 

FEDYA. When may it be done? 

PETER PETROVICH. Now how can I explain .... 
Well, in war for instance. And when a criminal 
kills someone, how can he be allowed to go un- 
punished ? 

FDYA. But why does the Gospel say we should 
love everyone and forgive everyone? 

PETER PETROVICH. It would be well if that could 
be done but it can't. 

FDYA. Why not? 

PETER PETRiWiCH. Oh, because it can't ! [Turns to 
IVAN VAsfLEViCH, who has been smiling as he listened to 
FDYA.] So, my worthy Ivan Vasflevich, I do not, and 
cannot, recognize the exceptional enactments and 
the courts-martial. 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 463 

9 
PRISONS 

SEMKA, 13 years old. 
AKSXJTKA, 10 year i old. 
MfncA, 10 years old. 
PALASHKA, g years old. 
VANKA, 8 years old. 

The children are sitting by a well after gathering 
mushrooms. 

AKSUTKA. What a dreadful state Aunt Matrena 
was in! And the children! One began to howl 
and then they all howled together. 

vANKA. Why were they so upset? 

PALASHKA. Why? Because their father was being 
taken to jail. Enough to make them upset. 

vANKA. What's he been sent to jail for? 

AKstJTKA. Who knows? They came and told him 
to get ready, and took him and led him off. We 
saw it all. . . . 

SEMKA. They took him for stealing horses. 
Demkin's was stolen, and Krasnovs' was his work, 
too. Even our gelding fell into his clutches. Do 
you think they ought to pat him on the head for it? 

AKSUTKA. Yes, I know. But I can't help feeling 
sorry for the children. There are four of them 
you know, and they're so poor they haven't even 
any bread. They came begging from us to-day. 

SEMKA. But then they shouldn't steal. 

MfTKA. Yes, but it was the father who did the 
stealing, not the children. So why should they 
have to go begging? 

SMKA. To teach them not to steal. 

MI'TRA. But it wasn't the children, it was their 
father. 

sfiMKA. Oh, how you keep harping on one string ! 
'The children The children!' Why did he do 



464 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

wrong? Is he to be allowed to steal because he has 

a lot of children? 

vANKA. What will they do with him in the jail? 

AKSUTKA. Just keep him there that's all. 

VANKA. Will they feed him? 

SEMKA. Yes, of course, the damned horse-thief! 
What is prison to him? Everything provided and 
he sits there comfortably. If only I was Tsar I'd 
know how to deal with horse-thieves. I'd teach 
them not to steal! But what happens now? He 
sits there at ease with friends of his own kind, and 
they teach one another how to steal better. My 
grandfather was telling us how Petrukha used to 
be a good lad, but after he had been in jail just 
once he came out such a thorough scoundrel that 
it was all up with him. From that time he began. . . . 

VANKA. Then why do they lock them up? 

SEMKA. Oh, go and ask them! 

AKstJTKA. They lock him up and feed him. . . . 

SEMKA. So that he should learn his job better ! 

AKstfTKA. While his children and their mother 
starve to death! They're neighbours and I'm 
sorry for them. What'll become of them? They 
come begging for bread and we can't help giving. 

vANKA. Then why do they put people in prison? 

SEMKA. What else could be done with them? 

vANKA. 'What else could be done'? Well, some- 
how ... so that .... 

SEMKA. You say 'somehow', but how, you don't 
know yourself! Wiser men than you have thought 
about it and haven't found a way. 

PALASHKA. I think if I was the Tsaritsa. . . . 

AKstJTKA [laughs]. Well, what would you do, 
Tsaritsa? 

PALASHKA. I'd make it so that no one should 
steal and the children wouldn't cry. 

AKstiTKA. Yes, but how would you do it? 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 465 

PALAsHKA. I'd arrange it so that everyone 
should have all they need and no one should be 
wronged, and everything would be all right for 
everybody. 

SEMKA. Well done, Tsaritsa! But how would 
you do it all? 

PALASHKA. I don't know, but I'd do it. 

MfTKA. Let's go through the thick birch wood, 
shall we? The girls got a lot of mushrooms there 
the other day. 

SEMKA. That's a good idea. Come on, you 
others. And you, Tsaritsa, mind you don't spill 
your mushrooms, you're getting too clever by half! 

[They get up and set out.] 



466 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

10 

RICHES 

A LANDOWNER. 

His WIFE. 

Their 6-year-old son, vAsvA. 

A TRAMP. 

The LANDOWNER and his WIFE are sitting at tea on a balcony 
with their daughter and VASYA. A young TRAMP ap- 
proaches. 

LANDOWNER [to TRAMP]. What is it? 

TRAMP [bowing]. You can see what it is, master! 
Have pity on a workless man! I'm starving and 
in rags. I've been in Moscow, and am begging 
my way home. Help a poor man ! 

LANDOWNER. Why are you in want? 

TRAMP. Because I have no money, master. 

LANDOWNER. If you worked you wouldn't be 
so poor. 

TRAMP. I'd be glad to work, but there's no 
work to be had nowadays. They're shutting down 
everywhere. 

LANDOWNER. Other people get work. Why can't 
you? 

TRAMP. Honest, master, I'd be thankful to get 
a job, but I can't get one. Have pity on me, 
master! This is the second day I've had nothing 
to eat. 

LANDOWNER [looks into his purse. To his WIFE] . Avez- 
vous de la petite monnaie? Je riai que des assignats. 1 

MISTRESS [tovAsYA]. Go and look in the bag on 
the little table by my bed, there's a good boy. 
You'll find a purse there bring it to me. 

VA5YA [does not hear what his mother has said, but 
stares at the TRAMP without taking his eyes off him] . 

1 Have you any small change? I have nothing but paper 
money. 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 467 

MISTRESS. Vasya, don't you hear? [Pulls him by the 
sleeve.] Vasya! 

vAsYA. What is it, mamma? [His mother repeats 
what she had said. VASYA jumps up.] All right, mamma. 
[Goes out, still looking at the TRAMP.] 

LANDOWNER [to TRAMP] . Wait a little in a minute. 
[TRAMP steps aside. To his WIFE, in French.] It's dreadful 
what a lot of them are going about without work. 
It's all laziness but still it's terrible if he's really 
hungry. 

MISTRESS. They exaggerate. I hear it's just the 
same abroad. In New York, I see, there are about 
a hundred thousand unemployed ! Would you like 
some more tea? 

LANDOWNER. Yes, please, but a little weaker this 

time. [He smokes and they are silent.] 

[The TRAMP looks at them, shakes his head, and coughs, 
evidently wishing to attract their attention. 
VASYA runs in with the purse and immediately 
looks round for the TRAMP. He gives the purse to 
his mother and stares at the man.] 

LANDOWNER [taking a threepenny bit from the purse]. 
Here you what's your name take this! 

[TRAMP takes off his cap, bows, and takes the coin.] 
TRAMP. Thank you for having pity on a poor 
man. 

LANDOWNER. The chief pity to me is that you 
don't get work. If you worked you wouldn't go 
hungry. He who works will not want. 

TRAMP [putting on his cap and turning away]. It's 
true what they say: 

'Work bends your back, 
But fills no sack.' 

[Goes off.] 

vAsYA. What did he say? 

LANDOWNER. Some stupid peasant proverb: 
'Work bends your back, but fills no sack,' 
vAsYA. What docs that mean? 



468 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

LANDOWNER. It means that work makes a man 
bent without his becoming rich. 

vAsYA. And is that wrong? 

LANDOWNER. Of course it is! Those who loaf 
about like that fellow and don't want to work are 
always poor. Only those who work get rich. 

vAsYA. But how is it we are rich? We don't 
work! 

MISTRESS [laughing]. How do you know papa 
doesn't work? 

vAsYA. I don't know. But I do know that we are 
very rich, so papa ought to have a lot of work to 
do. Does he work very hard? 

LANDOWNER. All work is not alike. Perhaps my 
work couldn't be done by everyone. 

VASYA. What is your work? 

LANDOWNER. To have you fed, clothed, and 
taught. 

vAsYA. But he has to do that, too, for his children. 
Then why does he have to go about so miserably 
while we are so .... 

LANDOWNER [laughing] . Here 's a natural socialist ! 

MISTRESS. Yes, indeed : l Ein Nan kann mehrfragen, 
als tausend Weise antworten konnen. 9 One fool can ask 
more than a thousand sages can answer. Only one 
should say 'ein Kind 9 instead of 'ein Narr\ And it's 
true of every child. 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 469 

1 1 
LOVING THOSE WHO INJURE YOU 

MASHA, 10 years old. 
vANYA, 8 years old. 

MASHA. I was just thinking how nice it would 
be if mamma came back now and took us out 
driving with her first to the Arcade and then 
to see Nastya. What would you like to happen? 

VANYA. Me? I'd like it to be the same as 
yesterday. 

MASHA. Why, what happened yesterday? Grisha 
hit you and then you both cried! There's iv t 
much good in that! 

vANYA. That's just what there was! It was so 
good that nothing could be better. And that's 
what I should like to happen again to-day. 

MASHA. I don't know what you're talking about. 

VANYA. Well, I'll try to explain what I mean. 
Do you remember how last Sunday Uncle Pavel 
Ivanovich . . . isn't he a dear? 

MASHA. Yes, everybody loves him. Mamma says 
he's a saint. And that's quite true. 

vANYA. Well ... do you remember that last 
Sunday he told a story of a man whom everybody 
treated badly, and how the worse they treated 
him the more he loved them? They abused him, 
but he praised them. They beat him, but he helped 
them. Uncle said that if people behaved like that 
they would feel very happy. I liked that story and 
I wanted to be like that man. So when Grisha 
hit me yesterday I kissed him. And he cried. And 
I felt so happy. But I didn't manage so well with 
nurse. She began scolding me, and I forgot how 
I ought to behave and was rude to her. And now 



470 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

I should like to try again and behave as I did to 
Grisha. 

MAsHA. You mean you'd like someone to hit you? 

VANYA. I should like it very much. I should 
do as I did with Grisha, and should feel happy 
directly. 

MASHA. What rubbish ! You always were stupid 
and you still are! 

VANYA. That doesn't matter. I know now what 
to do to be happy all the time. 

MASHA. You little idiot ! But does it really make 
you happy to behave like that? 

VANYA. Very happy ! 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 471 

12 

THE PRESS 

VOL6DYA, a High School pupil, 14 years old. 
sbN^A, 75 years old. 
MfsHA, 8 years old. 

A PORTER. 

VOL6DYA is reading and doing homework, SONYA is writing. 
The PORTER comes in with a heavy load on his back, 
followed by MfsHA. 

PORTER. Where shall I put this load, master? 
It has almost pulled my arms out of their sockets. 

VOL6DYA. Where were you told to put it? 

PORTER. Vasili Timofeevich said : Tut it in the 
lesson-room for the present till the master comes 
himself.' 

VOLODYA. Well, then, dump it there in the 
corner. [Goes on with his reading. The PORTER puts 
down his load and sighs.] 

s6NYA. What's that he's brought? 

VOLODYA. A newspaper called The Truth. 

SONYA. Why is there such a lot of it? 

VOL6DYA. It's the file for the whole year. [Goes 
on reading.] 

MfsHA. People have written all that ! 

PORTER. True enough ! Those who wrote it must 
have worked hard. 

VOL6DYA. What did you say? 

PORTER. I said that those who wrote it all didn't 
shirk work. Well, I'll be going. Please tell them 
that I brought the papers. [Goes out.] 

s6NYA [tovoL6DYA]. Why does papa want all 
those papers? 

VOL6DYA. He wants to cut out Bolshakov's 
articles. 

s6NYA. But Uncle Mikhail Ivanovich says that 
Bolshak6v's articles make him sick! 



472 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

VOL6DYA. Oh, that's what Uncle Mikhdil 
Ivanovich thinks. He reads Verity for AIL 

MfsHA. And is uncle's Verity as big as this? 

s6NYA. Bigger still ! But this is only for one year, 
and it has been coming out for twenty years or 
more. 

MfsHA. What? Twenty lots like this, and 
another twenty? 

S6NYA [wishing to astonish MfsHA]. Well, what of it? 
Those are only two newspapers. There are thirty 
or more of them published. 

VOL.6DYA [without lifting his head]. Thirty! There 
are five hundred and thirty in Russia alone, and 
if you reckon those published abroad there are 
thousands. 

MISHA. You couldn't get them into this room? 

VOL6DYA. This room ! They'd fill up our whole 
street. But please don't keep worrying. I've got 
an exam to-morrow, and you're hindering me with 
your nonsense. [Reads again.] 

MfsHA. I think they oughtn't to write so much. 

s6NYA. Why shouldn't they? 

MfsHA. Because if it 's the truth, they shouldn't 
always be repeating the same thing, and if it's not 
true, they oughtn't to write it at all. 

s6NYA. So that's what you think! 

MfsHA. But why do they write such an awful lot? 

VOL6DYA [looking up from his book]. Because with- 
out the freedom of the press we shouldn't know the 
truth. 

MfsHA. But papa says that the truth is in Truth, 
and Uncle Mikhail says that Truth makes him sick. 
How do they know whether the truth is in Truth or 
in Verity? 

s6NYA. He's quite right! There are too many 
papers, and magazines, and books. 

VOL6DYA. How like a woman always frivolous! 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 473 

s6NYA. No! I say there are so many of them 
that we can't tell .... 

VOL6DYA. Everyone has his reason given him 
to judge where the truth is. 

MfsHA. Well, if everyone has a reason, then 
everyone can judge for himself. 

VOL6DYA. So your great mind has pronounced 
on the matter! But do please go away somewhere 
and stop interrupting me. 



474 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

13 
REPENTANCE 

v6LYA, 8 years old. 
FEDYA, i o years old. 

v6LYA stands in the passage with an empty plate and is 
crying. FEDYA runs in and stops short. 

F DYA. Mamma told me to see where you were. 
What are you crying about? Did you take it to 
nurse? [Sees the empty plate and whistles.] Where is the 
pudding? 

VOLYA. I ... I ... I wanted . . . and suddenly. 
. . . Oh, oh, oh, I didn't mean to, but I ate it. ... 

FDYA. You didn't take it to nurse but ate it 
yourself? That was a nice thing to do! And 
mamma thought you'd like to take it to nurse! 

VOLYA. Yes, I did like taking it ... but all of a 
sudden ... I didn't mean to ... oh, oh, oh ! 

F&DYA. You just tasted it and then ate it all up ! 
That's good! [Laughs.] 

VOLYA. Yes, it's all very well for you to laugh. 
But how can I tell them. ... I can't tell nurse and 
I can't tell mamma. . . . 

FDYA. Well, you've done it ha ha ha so 
you ate it all up! Now what's the use of crying? 
You've got to think what to do. 

v6LYA. What can I think of? What am I to do? 

F^DYA. What a fix ! [Tries not to laugh. Silence.] 

v6LYA. What shall I do? It's terrible! [Sobs.] 

FDYA. What are you so upset about? Stop 
crying, do ! Just go and tell mamma you took it. 

VOLYA. That would make it worse. 

FDYA. Well, then, go and confess to nurse. 

v6LYA. How can I? 

FDYA. Listen, then! You stay here, and I'll run 
to nurse and tell her. She won't mind. 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 475 

v6LYA. No, don't say anything to her. How can 
I tell her? 

FDYA. Oh, rubbish! You've done wrong but 
what's to be done? I'll just go and tell her. [Runs 
off.] 

VOLYA. F^dya! Fedya! Wait! . . . Oh, he's 
gone. ... I only meant to taste it, and then I don't 
remember how but I ate it all up! What shall 
I do? [Sobs.] 

FDYA comes running. 

FEDYA. That's enough crying! I told you nurse 
would forgive you. She only said: 'Oh, my poor 
darling!' 

v6LYA. But isn't she angry? 

FDYA. She didn't think of being angry ! 'The 
Lord be with him and the pudding!' she said. 'I'd 
have given it him myself.' 

v6LYA. But you see I didn't mean to do it! 
[Begins to cry again.] 

FDYA. What's the matter now? We won't tell 
mamma, and nurse has forgiven you ! 

VOLYA. Yes, nurse has forgiven me. She's kind 
and good. But I'm bad, bad, bad! That's what 
makes me cry. 



476 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

'4 
ART 

A FOOTMAN. 

The HOUSEKEEPER. 

PAVEL, the butler's assistant. 
NATASHA, 8 years old. 
NfNA, a High School girl. 
SENECHKA, a High School boy. 

FOOTMAN [carrying a tray]. Almond-milk with the 
tea, and some rum ! 

HOUSEKEEPER [knitting a stocking and counting the 
stitches]. . . . Twenty- two, twenty- three. . . . 

FOOTMAN. Do you hear, Avdotya Vasilevna? 
Hey, Avdotya Vasf levna ! 

HOUSEKEEPER. I hear, I hear! Directly! I can't 
tear myself in half. [To NATASHA] I'll get you a plum 
in a minute, dear. Only give me time. I'll get 
the milk ready first. [Strains the milk.] 

FOOTMAN [sitting down]. Well, I saw quite enough 
of it ! Whatever do they pay their money for? 

HOUSEKEEPER. What are you talking about? 
Did they go to the theatre? It seems to have been 
a long play to-day. 

FOOTMAN. The opera is always long. You sit and 
sit. . . . They were good enough to let me see it. I 
was surprised ! [pAvEL comes in bringing some plums, and 
stops to listen.] 

HOUSEKEEPER. Then there was singing? 

FOOTMAN. Yes, but what singing! Just stupid 
shouting not like anything real at all. 'I love her 
very much,' he says and shouts it as loud as he 
can, not a bit like anything real. And then they 
quarrel and have a fight, and then start singing 
again. ^ 

HOUSEKEEPER. But a season-ticket for the opera 
costs a lot they say.. 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 477 

FOOTMAN. For our box they pay three hundred 
rubles for twelve performances. 

pAvEL [shaking his head]. Three hundred rubles! 
Who gets the money? 

FOOTMAN. Those who sing get a lot, of course. 
They say that a prima-donna earns fifty thousand 
rubles in a year. 

pAvEL. Not to speak of thousands three hun- 
dred rubles is a tremendous lot of money to a 
peasant. Some of us struggle all our lives and can't 
save three hundred rubles or even a hundred. 

NINA comes into the pantry. 

NINA. Is Natasha here? Where have you been? 
Mamma is asking for you. 

NATASHA [eating a plum]. I'll come in a minute. 

NfNA [to PAVEL] . What did you say about a 
hundred rubles? 

HOUSEKEEPER. Semen Nikolaevich [pointing to the 
FOOTMAN] was telling us about the singing at the 
opera to-day and how highly the singers are paid, 
and Pavel here was surprised. Is it true, Nina 
Mikhailovna, that a singer gets as much as twenty- 
five thousand rubles? 

N!NA. Even more! One singer was offered a 
hundred and fifty thousand rubles to go to America. 
And that's not all. In the papers yesterday it was 
reported that a musician received twenty-five 
thousand rubles for a finger-nail. 

pAvEL. They'll print anything! Is such a thing 
possible? 

NfNA [with evident satisfaction] . It 's true, I tell you. 

pAvEL. But why did they pay him that for a nail? 

NATASHA. Yes, why? 

NfNA. Because he was a pianist and was insured, 
so that if anything happened to his hand and he 
couldn't play he got paid for it. 

pAvEL. What a business! 



4?8 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

SNECHKA, a sixth-form High School boy, enters. 

SNECHKA. What a congress you have here! 
What's it all about? [N*NA tells him.] 

S^NECHKA [with even greater satisfaction] . I know a 
better one than that ! A dancer in Paris has insured 
her legs for two hundred thousand rubles in case 
she injures them and can't work. 

FOOTMAN. Those are the people, if you'll excuse 
my saying so, who do their work without breeches! 

PAVEL. There's work for you! Fancy paying 
them money for it! 

SENECHKA. But not everybody can do it remem- 
ber, and think how many years it takes them to 
learn it. 

pAvEL. Learn what? Something good, or how 
to twirl their legs? 

siNECHKA. Oh, you don't understand. Art is 
a great thing. 

pAvEL. Well, I think it's all rubbish! And it's 
the fat folk who have such mad money to throw 
away. If they had to earn it as we do, with a bent 
back, there wouldn't be any of those dancers and 
singers. The whole lot of them aren't worth a 
farthing. 

SNECHKA. What a thing it is to have no educa- 
tion ! To him Beethoven, and Viardo, and Raphael 
are all rubbish. 

NAT ASH A. And I think that what he says is true. 

NfNA. Let us go. Come along ! 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 479 

15 
SCIENCE 

A schoolboy of 15, on the modern side of the school. 
A schoolboy of 16, on the classical side. 



MODERNIST. What good is Latin and Greek to 
me? Everything good, or of any importance, has 
been translated into modern languages. 

CLASSICIST. You will never understand the Iliad 
unless you read it in Greek. 

MODERNIST. But I have no need to read it at all, 
and I don't want to. 

VOL6DYA. What is the Iliad? 

MODERNIST. A story. 

CLASSICIST. Yes, but there isn't another story 
like it in the world. 

PETRUSHA. What makes it so good? 

MODERNIST. Nothing. It's just a story like any 
other. 

CLASSICIST. You'll never get a real understanding 
of the past unless you know those stories. 

MODERNIST. In my opinion that is just as much 
a superstition as the superstition called theology. 

CLASSICIST [growing heated]. Theology is falsehood 
and nonsense, but this is history and wisdom. 

VOL6DYA. Is theology really nonsense? 

CLASSICIST. What are you joining in for? You 
don't understand anything about it. 

VOL6DYA AND PETRIJSHA [together, offended] . Why 

don't we understand? 

VOL6DYA. Perhaps we understand better than 
you do. 

CLASSICIST. Oh, all right, all right! But sit still 



480 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

and don't keep interrupting our conversation. 
[To the MODERNIST.] You say the ancient languages 
have no application to modern life. But the same 
can be said about bacteriology and chemistry and 
physics and astronomy. What good is it to know 
the distances of the stars, and their sizes, and all 
those details that are of no use to anyone? 

MODERNIST. Why do you say such knowledge is 
no good? It is very useful. 

CLASSICIST. What for? 

MODERNIST. What for? All sorts of things 
navigation, for instance. 

CLASSICIST. You don't need astronomy for that! 

MODERNIST. Well, how about the practical ap- 
plication of science to agriculture, medicine, and 
industry. . . . 

CLASSICIST. That same knowledge is also utilized 
in making bombs, and in wars, and is used by 
the revolutionaries. If it made people live better 
lives. . . . 

MODERNIST. And are people made better by your 
sort of science? 

VOL6DYA. What sort of science does make people 
better? 

CLASSICIST. I told you not to interrupt the con- 
versation of your elders. You only talk nonsense. 

VOL6DYA AND PETRUSHA [together]. But non- 

sense or not, what sciences make people live better? 

MODERNIST. There are no such sciences. Every- 
one must do that for himself. 

CLASSICIST. Why do you bother to talk to them? 
They don't understand anything. 

MODERNIST. Why not? [to VQLODYAand PETRtrsiiA], 

They don't teach one how to live in the High 
School. 

VOL6DYA. If they don't teach that, then there is 
no need to study. 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 481 

PETRTJSHA. When we grow bigger we won't learn 

unnecessary things. 

VOLODYA. But we will live better ourselves. 
CLASSICIST [laughing]. See how these sages have 

summed it all up ! 



450 



482 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

16 
GOING TO LAW 

A PEASANT. 

His WIFE. 

His son's GODFATHER. 



)-*-* 

PEASANT [entering hut and taking off his things]. Lord, 
what weather ! I could hardly get there. 

WIFE. Yes, it's a long way off! It must be some 
fifteen versts. 

PEASANT. It's quite twenty. [To FDOR.] Go and 
put up the horse. 

WIFE. Well, have they awarded it to us? 

PEASANT. The devil of an award! There's no 
sense in it at all. 

GODFATHER. What's it all about, friend? I don't 
understand. 

PEASANT. Well, you see it 's like this ; Averyan has 
grabbed my kitchen-garden and says it's his, and 
I can't get the matter settled. 

WIFE. We've been at law about it for two years. 

GODFATHER. I know, I know. It was being tried 
by the local court last Lent. But I heard that it 
was settled in your favour. 

PEASANT. Yes, that's so, but Averyan went to 
the Land Captain, and he sent the case back for 
re- trial. So I went before the Judges, and they, 
too, decided in my favour; that should have settled 
it. But no, they've reconsidered it now and given 
it to him. There 's fine judges for you ! 

WIFE. Well, what's going to happen now? 

PEASANT. I'm not going to let him take what's 
mine. I shall take the matter to a higher Court. 
I've spoken to a lawyer about it already. 



1HE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 4^3 

GODFATHER. But suppose the higher Court goes 
his way, too? 

PEASANT. Then I'll take it higher still! I won't 
give way to that fat-bellied devil, if I have to part 
with my last cow. He shall learn who he's up 
against. 

GODFATHER. What a curse these judges are a 
real curse! But what if they also decide in his 
favour? 

PEASANT. I'll take it to the Tsar. . . . But I must 
go and give the horse his hay. [Goes out.] 

PETKA. And if the Tsar decides against us, who 
is there to go to then? 

WIFE. Beyond the Tsar there's nobody. 

PTKA. Why do some of them award it to 
Averyan and others to daddy? 

WIFE. It must be because they don't know 
themselves. 

PTKA. Then why do we ask them, if they don't 
know? 

WIFE. Because no one wants to give up what 
belongs to him. 

PTKA. When I grow up I know what I'll do. If 
I disagree with anybody about anything we'll draw 
lots to see who is to have it. Whoever gets it, that 
will be the end of it. I always do that with Akiilka. 

GODFATHER. And perhaps that's the best way, 
really ! Settle it without sin. 

WIFE. So it is. What haven't we spent over that 
bit of ground more than it 's worth ! Oh, it 's a 
sin a sin! 



484 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 



CRIMINAL LAW 

GRfsHKA, 1 2 years old. 
SLMKA, 10 years old. 
TfsHKA, 13 years old. 

TfsHKA. They'll put him in prison so that he 
doesn't sneak into someone else's corn-bin again. 
He'll be afraid to do it another time. 

SEMKA. It's all right if he really did do it, but 
Grandpa Mikfta was saying that Mitrofan was sent 
to jail quite wrongly. 

TISHKA. What do you mean wrongly? Won't 
the man who sentenced him wrongly be punished? 

GRfsHKA. They won't pat him on the head for 
it if he sentenced him wrongly. He'll be punished, 
too. 

SEMKA. But who will punish him ? 

TISHKA. Those who are above him. 

SEMKA. And who is above him? 

TISHKA. The authorities. 

SEMKA. But suppose the authorities make a mis- 
take, too? 

GRISHKA. There are still higher authorities who 
will punish them. That 's why there is a Tsar. 

SEMKA. And if the Tsar makes a mistake who'll 
punish him? 

TfsHKA. 'Who will punish? Who will punish?' 
We know. . . . 

GRfsHKA. God will punish him. 

SMKA. Then surely God will punish the man 
\vho climbed into the corn-bin? So God and God 
alone ought to punish anyone who is guilty. God 
will make no mistakes. 

TISHKA. But you see it can't be done like that ! 

SEMKA. Why not? 

TfsHKA. Because. . . . 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 485 

IS 
PRIVATE PROPERTY 

An Old CARPENTER. 
A BOY of 7. 

The old CARPENTER is mending the rails of a balcony. The 
son of the owner is watching him and admiring his work. 

BOY. How well you do it ! What's your name? 

CARPENTER. Well, they used to call me Khrolka, 
but now they call me Khrol. My other name is 
Savich. 

BOY. How well you work, Khrol Savich! 

CARPENTER. What's worth doing at all is worth 
doing well. What pleasure is there in bad work? 

BOY. Have you got a balcony at your house? 

CARPENTER [laughing], A balcony ! Ah, my boy, 
such a balcony as yours can't compare with! One 
with neither window nor door, neither roof nor 
walls nor floor. That's what our balcony is like. 

BOY. You're always making jokes ! No, but really 
and truly, have you got a balcony like this? I 
want to know. 

CARPENTER. A balcony? Why, my dear little 
chap, how could the likes of us have a balcony? 
It 's a mercy if we have as much as a roof over our 
heads as for a balcony! I've been trying to build 
myself a hut ever since the spring. I pulled down 
the old one, but I can't get the new one finished. 
It hasn't got a roof on yet and it stands there 
rotting. 

BOY [surprised J. Why is that? 

CARPENTER. Simply because I'm not strong 
enough. 

BOY. What do you mean not strong enough? 
You work for us, don't you? 



488 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

What work can she do? There's only me to do all 
the work and that crowd around me crying for 
food. . . . 

LADY. Are there really seven children? 

OLD WOMAN. May I die if there aren't! The 
eldest is only just beginning to help a little, the 
rest are all too small. 

LADY. But why has she had so many? 

OLD WOMAN. What can you expect? He is living 
near by in the town comes home for a visit or 
on a holiday . . . and they are young people. If 
only he were taken somewhere far away ! 

LADY. Yes. Some mourn because they have 
no children or because their children die, but you 
mourn because there are so many. 

OLD WOMAN. So many, so many ! More than we 
have strength for. But you will give her some hope, 
lady? 

LADY. Very well. I was godmother to the others, 
and I will be to this one, too. Is it a boy? 

OLD WOMAN. A boy, little but healthy. He cries 
like anything. . . . Will you fix the time? 

LADY. Have it whenever you like. 

[OLD WOMAN thanks her and goes away.] 

xANiCHKA. Mamma, why is it some people have 
children and others not? You have and Matrena 
has, but Parasha hasn't. 

LADY. Parasha isn't married. Children are born 
when people are married. They marry, become 
husband and wife, and then children are born. 

xANiCHKA. Always? 

LADY. No, not always. Cook has a wife, you 
know, but they have no children. 

TANICHKA. But couldn't it be arranged so that 
people who want children should have them and 
those who don't want them shouldn't have them? 

BOY. What stupid things you ask I 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 489 

Not stupid at all! I think that if 
Matrena's daughter doesn't want children, it would 
be better to arrange that she shouldn't have them. 
Can't that be done, mamma? 

BOY. You talk nonsense, silly. You don't know 
anything about it. 

TANICHKA. Can't it be done, mamma? 

LADY. How can I tell you? We don't know. . . . 
It depends on God. 

TANICHKA. But what causes children to be born? 

BOY [laughs]. AgOat! 

TANIGHKA [offended]. There's nothing to laugh 
at. I think that if children make it hard for people, 
as Matrena says, it ought to be arranged that they 
shouldn't be born. Nurse hasn't any children and 
never has had. 

LADY. But she isn't married. She has no husband. 

TANIGHKA. So should all be who don't wish to 
have children. Or else what happens? Children 
are born and there's nothing to feed them on. 
[LADY exchanges glances with the boy and is silent.] When 
1 am grown up I will certainly marry and arrange 
to have just a girl and a boy and no more. It isn't 
right that there should be children and they 
shouldn't be loved ! How I shall love my children ! 
Really, mamma! I will go to nurse and ask her 
about it. [Goes away.] 

LADY [to her son]. Yes, how goes the saying? 
'Out of the mouths of babes' . . . how is it? 'there 
comes truth.' What she said is quite true. If only 
people understood that marriage is an important 
matter and not an amusement that they should 
marry not for their own sakes but for their chil- 
dren's we should not have those horrors of aban- 
doned and neglected children, and it would not 
happen as with Matrena's daughter, that children 
are not a joy but a grief. 



490 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

2O 
EDUCATION 

A PORTER. 

NIKOLAY, a High School boy of 15. 
KATYA, aged 7. 
Their MOTHER. 

The PORTER is polishing the door-knobs. KATYA is building 
a toy house with little bricks. NIKOLAY enters and flings 
down his books. 

NIKOLAY. Damn them all and their blasted High 
School! 

PORTER. What's the matter? 

NIKOLAY. They've given me a one 1 again, devil 
take them! There'll be another row. Much good 
their damned geography is to me. Where is some 
Clifornia [California] or other! Why the devil must 
I know that? 

PORTER. And what will they do to you? 

NIKOLAY. Keep me back in the same class again. 

PORTER. But why don't you learn your lessons? 

NIKOLAY. Because I can't learn rubbish that's 
why. Oh, let them all go to blazes! [Throws 
himself into a chair.] I'll go and tell mamma that I 
can't go on, and there's an end of it. Let them do 
what they like, but I can't go on. And if she won't 
take me out of the school by God, I'll run away! 

PORTER. Where will you run to? 

NIKOLAY. I'll run away from home. I'll hire 
myself out as a coachman or a yard-porter ! Any- 
thing would be better than that rot. 

PORTER. But a porter's job isn't easy, you know. 
Getting up early, chopping the wood, carrying it in 
and stoking the fires. 

NIKOLAY. Phew! [Whistles.] That's a holiday! 
1 The lowest mark. The highest was five. A. M. 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 491 

Splitting logs is a nice job. You won't put me off 
with that. It's an awfully nice job. You should 
just try to learn geography! 

PORTER. Really? But why do they make you 
doit? 

NIKOLAY. You may well ask why! There's no 
'why' about it it's just the custom. They think 
people can't get along without it. 

PORTER But you must learn, or you'll never get 
into the Service and receive a grade and a salary 
like your papa and your uncle. 

NIKOLAY. But suppose I don't want to? 

KATYA. Yes, suppose he doesn't want to? 
MOTHER enters with a note in her hand. 

MOTHER. The Headmaster writes that you've 
got a one again! That won't do, Nikolenka. It's 
one of two things: either you study or you don't. 

NIKOLAY. Of course it 's one or the other. I can't, 
I can't, I can't! Let me leave school for God's 
sake, mamma ! I simply can't learn. 

MOTHER. Why can't you? 

NIKOLAY. I just can't ! It won't go into my head. 

MOTHER. It won't go into your head because 
you don't concentrate. Stop thinking about rub- 
bish, and think of your lessons. 

NIKOLAY. I'm in earnest, mamma. Do let me 
leave! I don't ask for anything else, only set me 
free from this horrible studying this drudgery. I 
can't stand it! 

MOTHER. But what will you do? 

NIKOLAY. That's my affair. 

MOTHER. No, it 'snot your affair, it's mine. lam 
answerable to God for you, and I must have you 
educated. 

NIKOLAY. But supposing I can't be educated? 

MOTHER [severely]. What nonsense! I appeal to 
you as your mother, for the last time, to turn over 



492 THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 

a new leaf and do what is demanded of you. If you 

don't listen to me I shall have to take other steps. 

NIKOLAY. I have told you I can't and don't 
want to. 

MOTHER. Take care, Nikolay! 

NIKOLAY. There's nothing to take care of! Why 
do you torment me? You don't understand. 

MOTHER. Don't dare to speak to me like that! 
How dare you? Leave this room at once! And 
take care! 

NIKOLAY. All right, I'll go. I'm not afraid of 
anything and I don't want anything from you. 
[Runs out, slamming the door.] 

MOTHER [to herself] . He worries me to death. 
But I know what it all comes from. It 's all because 
he won't concentrate on the necessary things, but 
fills his head with rubbish the dogs and the hens. 

KATYA. But mamma, don't you remember you 
yourself told me how impossible it was to stand 
in a corner and not think of a white bear? 

MOTHER. I'm not talking about that. I'm saying 
he must learn what he is told to. 

KATYA. But he says he can't. 

MOTHER. He talks nonsense. 

KATYA. But he doesn't say he doesn't want to 
do anything; only he doesn't want to learn geo- 
graphy. He wants to work. He wants to be a 
coachman or a porter. 

MOTHER. If he were a porter's son he might be 
a porter, but he is your father's son and so he 
must study. 

KATYA. But he doesn't want to ! 

MOTHER. Whether he wants to or not, he must. 

KATYA. But supposing he can't? 

MOTHER. Mind you don't follow his example! 

KATYA. But that's exactly what I shall do. I 
won't on any account learn what I don't want to. 



THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN 495 

MOTHER. Then you will be an ignorant fool. 
[Silence.] 

KATYA. When I grow up and have children of 
my own I won't on any account force them to learn. 
If they want to study I shall let them, but if they 
don't I shan't make them. 

MOTHER. When you grow up you'll do nothing 
of the kind. 

K^TYA. I certainly shall. 

MOTHER. You won't, when you grow up. 

KATYA. Yes I shall, I shall, I shall! 

MOTHER. Then you'll be a fool. 

KATYA. Nurse says, God needs fools. 



THOUGHTS SELECTED FROM 
PRIVATE LETTERS 

TWO VIEWS OF LIFE 

ERE are only two strictly logical views of life : 
J. one a false one, which understands life to mean 
those visible phenomena that occur in our bodies 
from the time of birth to the time of death ; the 
other a true one, which understands life to be 
the invisible consciousness which dwells within us. 
One view is false, the other true, but both are 
logical. 

The first of these views, the false one which 
understands life to mean the phenomena visible 
in our bodies from birth till death, is as old as the 
world. It is not, as many people suppose, a view 
of life produced by the materialistic science and 
philosophy of our day; our science and philosophy 
have only carried that conception to its farthest 
limits, making more obvious than ever the in- 
compatibility of that view of life with the funda- 
mental demands of human nature, but it is a very 
old and primitive view, held by men on the lowest 
level of development. It was expressed by Chinese, 
by Buddhists, and by Jews, and in the Book of 
Job. 

This view is now expressed as follows: Life is 
an accidental play of the forces in matter, showing 
itself in time and space. What we call our con- 
sciousness is not life, but a delusion of the senses 
which makes it seem as if life lay in that conscious- 
ness. Consciousness is a spark which under certain 
conditions is ignited in matter, burns up to a flame, 
dies down, and at last goes out altogether. This 
flame (i.e. consciousness), attendant upon matter 



THOUGHTS FROM PRIVATE LETTERS 495 
for a certain time between two infinities of time, is 
nothing. And though consciousness perceives itself and 
the whole universe, and sits in judgement on itself and 
on the universe , and sees the play of chance in this universe, 
and, above all, calls it a play of chance in contradistinction 
to something which is not chance this consciousness 
itself is only an outcome of lifeless matter a phan- 
tom appearing and vanishing without meaning or 
result. Everything is the outcome of ever-changing 
matter, and what we call life is but a condition of 
dead matter. 

That is one view of life. It is a perfectly logical 
view. According to this view, man's reasonable 
consciousness is but an accident incidental to a 
certain state of matter, and therefore what we- in 
our consciousness call life, is but a phantom. Only 
dead matter exists. What we call life is the play 
of death. 

The other view of life is this. Life is only what I 
am conscious of in myself. And I am always con- 
scious of my life not as something that has been or 
will be (that is how I reflect on my life), but when 
I am conscious of it I feel that I am never beginning 
anywhere, never ending anywhere. With the con- 
sciousness of my life, conceptions of time and space 
do not blend. My life manifests itself in time and 
space, but that is only its manifestation. Life itself, 
as I am conscious of it, is something I perceive apart 
from time and space. So that in this view of life 
we get just the contrary result: not that conscious- 
ness of life is a phantom, but that everything re- 
lating to time and space is of the nature of a 
phantom. 

Therefore, in this view, the cessation of my 
physical existence in time and space has no reality, 
and cannot end or even hinder my true life. And 
according to this view death does not exist. 



496 THOUGHTS FROM PRIVATE LETTERS 
MATTER IS THE LIMIT OF SPIRIT 

The material form in which the awakening of 
our consciousness of true life finds us in this world 
is, so to speak, the boundary limiting the free 
development of our spirit. 

Matter is the limit of spirit. But true life is the 
destruction of this limitation. 

In this understanding of life lies the very essence 
of the understanding of truth that essence which 
gives man the consciousness of eternal life. 

Materialists mistake that which limits life, for 
life itself. 



THE SCAFFOLDING 

We must remind ourselves as often as possible 
that our true life is riot this external, material life 
that passes before our eyes here on earth, but that 
it is the inner life of our spirit, for which the visible 
life serves only as a scaffolding a necessary aid to 
our spiritual growth. The scaffolding itself is only 
of temporary importance, and after it has served 
its purpose is no longer wanted but even becomes 
a hindrance. 

Seeing before him an enormously high and 
elaborately constructed scaffolding, while the build- 
ing itself only just shows above its foundations, man 
is apt to make the mistake of attaching more im- 
portance to the scaffolding than to the building for 
the sake of which alone this temporary scaffolding 
has been put up. 

We must remind ourselves and one another that 
the scaffolding has no meaning or importance 
except to render possible the erection of the build- 
ing itself. 



THOUGHTS FROM PRIVATE LETTERS 497 
THE LIFE OF THE SPIRIT 

There are moments when one ceases to believe in 
spiritual life. 

This is not unbelief, but rather periods of belief 
in physical life. 

A man suddenly begins to be afraid of death. 
This always happens when something has befogged 
him and he once more begins to believe that bodily 
life is real life, just as in a theatre you may forget 
yourself and think that what you see on the stage 
is actually happening, and so may be frightened 
by what is done there. 

That is what happens in life. 

After a man has understood that his life is not on 
the stage but in the stalls that is, not in his per- 
sonality but outside it it sometimes happens that, 
from old habit, he suddenly succumbs again to the 
seduction of illusion and feels frightened. 

But these moments of illusion are not enough to 
convince me that what goes on before me (in my 
physical life) is really happening. 

At times when one's spirit sinks one must treat 
oneself as one treats an invalid and keep quiet ! 

THE FEAR OF DEATH 

It is generally supposed that there is something 
mystical in our view of life and death. But there is 
nothing of the kind. 

I like my garden, I like reading a book, I like 
caressing a child. By dying I lose all this, and there- 
fore I do not wish to die, and I fear death. 

It may be that my whole life consists of such 
temporary worldly desires and their gratification. 
If so I cannot help being afraid of what will end 
these desires. But if these desires and their gratifica- 
tion have given way and been replaced in me by 



498 THOUGHTS FROM PRIVATE LETTERS 
another desire the desire to do the will of God, to 
give myself to Him in my present state and in any 

Eossible future state then the more my desires 
ave changed the less I fear death, and the less 
does death exist for me. And if my desires be 
completely transformed, then nothing but life 
remains and there is no death. To replace what 
is earthly and temporary by what is eternal is the 
way of life, and along it we must travel. But in 
what state his own soul is each one knows for 
himself. 

THE WAY TO KNOW GOD AND THE SOUL 

God and the Soul are known by me in the same 
way that I know infinity : not by means of defini- 
tions but in quite another way. Definitions only 
destroy for me that knowledge. Just as I know 
assuredly that there is an infinity of numbers, so do 
I know that there is a God and that I have a soul. 
For me this knowledge is indubitable, simply be- 
cause I am led to it unavoidably. 

To the certainty of the infinity of numbers I am 
led by addition. 

To the certain knowledge of God I am led by 
the question, 'Whence come I?' 

To the knowledge of the soul I am led by the 
question, 'What am I?' 

And I know surely of the infinity of numbers, and 
of the existence of God and of my soul, when I am 
led to the knowledge of them by these most simple 
questions. 

To one I add one, and one more, and another 
one, and another one; or I break a stick in two, and 
again in two, and again, and again and I cannot 
help knowing that number is infinite. 

I was born of my mother, and she of my grand- 
mother, and she of my great-grandmother, but 



THOUGHTS FROM PRIVATE LETTERS 499 
the very first of whom? And I inevitably arrive 
at God. 

My legs are not I, my arms are not I, my head 
is not I, my feelings are not I, even my thoughts 
are not I : then what am I? I am I, I am my soul. 

From whatever side I approach God it will 
always be the same. The origin of my thoughts, my 
reason, is God. The origin of my love is also He. 
The origin of matter is He, too. 

It is the same with the conception of the souL 
If I consider my striving after truth, I know that 
this striving after truth is my immaterial basis my 
soul. If I turn to my feelings of love for goodness, 
I know that it is my soul which loves. 



INDEX TO THIS VOLUME 



Abraham, Gerald, xiv. 
Abyssinia, 197. 
Alexander I, 19. 

II, 303- 

Amiel, 238. 

Anna Karenina, 52. 

'Ant Brothers', 42. 

Arnold, Matthew, xv, 188. 

Ascension, the, 446. 

Belshazzar, Feast of, 123. 
Birukov, P. I., 56. 
Boer War, 227. 
Bondarcv, T., 189. 
Boyhood and Youth, 5. 
Brandes, G. M., 362. 
Bryullov, K. P., 81. 
Buddha, 261. 

Carpenter, Edward, xx, 1 76. 
Centenary Edition, viii, xxviii. 
Channing, W. E., 213. 
Chertkov, V. G., viii, x. 
Childhood, 33. 
'Christianity of beef-steaks', 

123. 

Comte, A., 181, 369. 
Confession, vii, ix, xix. 
Considerant, V. P., 229. 
Crosby, Ernest Howard, 249, 

307- 
Crusades, the, 366. 

Daily Telegraph, xvi, xvii. 
Decembrists, the, 303. 
Dibitch, 254, 255. 
Dillon, Dr. E. J., xvii. 
Doke, 434. 
D61okhov, 40. 
Dostoevski, 81. 
Doukhobors, xxvi. 



Dreyfus, 367-8. 

Drozhin, 243-4. 

Dumas, A., Jils, 136, 154 et 
seq., 162, 170. 

Durnovo, Minister of Inte- 
rior, xvii. 

Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, 

97- 

Engelhardt, Varvara, 10, 12. 
Epictetus, 249, 440. 
Erckmann-Chatrian, 215. 
rgolski, Tatiana Alexan- 

drovna ('Auntie Tatiana'), 

13, 16, 24, 26, 27, 28. 
Essays on Arty xxiii. 
Ethics of Diet, The, 124, 134, 

135- 

Fanfaronov Hill, 43. 

Fedor Ivanovich, 8, 32, 39, 

41, 42, 51. 
Fet, A., 365. 

Feuillet, Octave, 100, 101. 
Final Struggle, The, xiv, xxvii. 
Flammanon, 219. 
Fleugel, Maurice, 233. 
For Every Day, 444. 
France, Anatole, 209. 
Frederick the Great, 229, 

373- 

Gandhi, xxv-xxvi, 413-15, 

433 et seq. 

Garrod, H. W., xv, xxviii. 
George, Henry, xxi, 189 ct 

seq., 277 et seq., 284 et 

seq., 301, 305. 
Gervinus, G. G., 355, 357. 
Goethe, 338, 374, 377, 380. 
G6gol, 52. 



502 



INDEX TO THIS VOLUME 



Gorchak6v, Prince AlexeV 
Ivanovich, Minister of 
War, 17. 

, Andrew Ivanovich, 17. 

Great Iniquity, A, xxi. 

Grisha, 28. 

Haeckel, Ernst, 64, 65. 
Hague Peace Conference, 

210, 226. 
Hallam, H., 309. 
Hardouin, J., 224. 
Harsnet, Dr. Samuel, 325. 
Hazlitt, William, 309. 
Herzen, 105, 106. 
Hindu Kuraly 421. 
Homer, 355. 
Hugo, Victor, 310, 380. 
Huxley, Thomas, 240. 

/ Cannot Be Silent, xxiv. 
Iliad, The, 479. 
Istenev, 30, 31, 36, 55. 

John the Baptist, 165, 229. 
Johnson, Dr., 309. 

Kant, 87, 234, 237, 238, 

249. 

Karr, Alphonse, 214. 
Kazan, 18, 44, 46, 47, 48. 
Kingdom of God is Within You, 

The, xix. 

Knight, G. Wilson, xxii-xxiii. 
Kolokoltsev, Grisha, 57, 58, 

59, 60, 61, 62. 
Krishna, 416, 418, 420, 423, 

425, 427, 428, 431, 432.' 
Kuropatkin, Alexey, 255. 

Labouchere, 286. 
Lamennais, 228. 
Lao-Tsze, 148. 
Larroque, Patrice, 219. 
Lessing, G. E., 85. 
Letourneau, Gh., 209. 



Letters on Henry George, 

xxi, 189. 

Letter to a Hindu, xxv, 413. 
Letter to a Japanese, xxvi, 

440. 

Lichtenberg, 238, 253. 
Luther, 430. 
Lyub6v Sergevna, 50, 51. 

Maistre* Joseph de, 207, 223. 
Makarov, 253, 256, 257. 
Manet, 138. 
Marcus Aurelius, 29, 113, 

237, 440. 

Martens, F. F. de, 210, 226. 
Marx, Karl, 183, 369. 
Masha (Tolstoy's sister), 16, 

55, 56- 

Maupassant, Guy de, 100, 
205. 

Mazzini, J., 228, 234, 300. 

Milford, Sir Humphrey, 
xxvii. 

Mishenka (Tolstoy's illegiti- 
mate brother), 18. 

Moch, Capital ne Gaston, 
225. 

Molinari, G. de, 205. 

Moltke, von, 207. 

Moore, George, xiii-xiv. 

Moralities, the, 371, 372. 

Muravev, 210, 226. 

Mysteries, the, 371, 372. 

Nazaroff, A. I., viii. 
Nicholas I, 19. 
II, 200, 210, 255. 
Nietzsche, 369. 
Novik6v, 303. 

Obolenski, D. A., 54. 

Ochakov, 33. 

Ogarev, N. P. (the exile), 

104, 105, 1 06. 
Olkhovik, 242. 
101. 



INDEX TO 

Origen, 248. 
Ostrovski, A. N., 380. 

Parnell, 283. 

Pascal, 218. 

Peter the Great, 153. 

Pickwick, 352. 

Plato, 92. 

Plevna, 197. 

Pope, The, 378. 

Potemkin, 10. 

* Priests of Science', 152. 

Prophecy, 162. 

Pugachev, 34 

Pushkin, A., 2, 30, 101, 380. 

Quetelct, 228.' 

Raskolnikov, 81, 82. 
Recollection^^ XK-XX, I. 
Redemption, the, 9<j, 104. 
Richet, Charles, 218. 
Rod, Edouard, 222. 
Romanes Lecture, 1894, xxi. 
Ruskin,John, 188. 
Russo-Japanese War, xxii, 
204 et seq. 

Sacraments, the, 104. 
Sakya Muni, 441. 
Sand, George, 369. 
Savage, Minot J., 233. 
Scaevola, Mucius, 24. 
Schiller, 47, 380. 
Shakespeare, xxii-xxiii, 308 

et seq. 

Shaw, Bernard, xi, xix. 
Shelley, 310. 
Shibunin, 61, 62. 
Sk6belev, M. D., 72. 
Socrates, 98, 440. 
Soviets, 500. 
Soyen-Shaku, 261, 262. 
Spencer, Herbert, 285. 
Stasyulevich, A. M., 57, 58, 

60, 61. 



THIS VOLUME 503 

Sterne, L., 5. 
Stolypm, P. A., xxv. 
Suzdal Monastery, xvii. 
Swift, Jonathan, 209. 

Taylorian Lecture, xv. 
Temyashov, 30, 31, 39. 

Dvinechka, 29, 31. 
Tillier, Claude, 214. 
Tolstoy, Alexandra Andr6- 

evna, 61, 62. 

Alexey, 380. 

Dmitri (brother), 16, 38, 
41, 42, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 
50, 5i> 52, 53 54, 55> 

5<>- 

Ilya (grandfather), 15. 

Leo N., vii xxviii, 46, 234, 

387. 

Marya (mdther), 1 1. 
(Mashenka) (sister), 16, 

55, 5 6 - 

Nicholas (brother), viii, 

15, ri> 38, 39. 43, 45> 48, 
52* 
(father), 17, 1 8, 26. 

Pelageya Nikolaevna 
(grandmother), 5 et seq. 

Count Peter Ivanovich, 
24. 

Sergey (brother), 16, 38, 
39,40,45,46,48,49,52. 

Sergius (eldest son), xiv, 
xxvii. 

r \ heodorc, 40. 

Topffer, R., 5. 

Traill, H. D., x. 

Trubetskdy, Princess Cathe- 
rine Dmftrievna (grand- 
mother), 10. 

Turgenev, I. S., 13,365. 

Vedas, the, 416, 431. 
Vigny, Alfred de, 229. 
Vilejinsky, Adjutant, 254. 
Vivekananda, 416, 417. 



304 INDEX TO THIS VOLUME 

Volk6nski, Prince (grand- Yasnaya Polyana, 52. 

father), 14. Yazykov, 19, 20, 25, 29, 

3 1 - 

War and Peace, 21, 25. Yushkov, V. I., 25, 51. 

West, Rebecca, xiv. Pelageya Ilymshna (Tol- 

What is Art?, ix-xvi. stoy's aunt), 18, 27, 47, 51. 
What Then Must We Do?, xix. 

Wilhelm of Germany, Kaiser, Zola, E., 136 et seq., 150, 

199. 152, 1 60, 1 66, 369. 



SET IN GRFVT BRITAIN 

AT THE 
UNIVERSITY PRESS, OXFORD, 

BY JOHN JOHNSON, 
PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY. 

PRINTED BY 

MERRITT AND HATCHER, LTD., 
LONDON.